The Olympic Games Held at Chamonix in 1924

This is still pretty early and raw, but we’re starting to see the Olympic documentary become a form. I enjoyed every second of this film.

This is the first film in this series that is, well, a film. That is to say, this was made in 1924, in order to be a filmed account of what took place at that year’s International Winter Sports Week. Because of that, this is a much more coherent piece than the first film in this collection. It’s kind of amazing how much of a difference that made for my enjoyment of the piece. I found the 1912 footage fascinating, and this was as well, but this was also more, this was a film.

My only real complaint is it’s not long enough. At only 37 minutes, it provides merely a glimpse of what happened. At every single point I wanted more. More of the hockey matches, more of the bobsledding, even more of the already pretty well represented ski jumping. What I got whet my appetite for the films to come, those offering a more comprehensive look at their respective Olympic games. I wonder if this one was so short because this wasn’t originally an Olympic games at all. We call it the first winter Olympics, but that’s a posthumous labeling, added when the second winter Olympics happened four years later.

The other really interesting thing about this film, is to contrast how filmmaking changed from 1912 to 1924. Suddenly we have camera movement, slow motion, some idea of how to film athletic competition. It’s remarkable how quickly all this happened, especially given that 1914-1918 were mostly lost to World War I. It all makes a massive difference in the involvement I had as a viewer, and fills me with so much excitement for all the goodness still to come.