IX Olympic Winter Games, Innsbruck 1964
This film has so much potential, but sadly never achieves most of it. The worst thing I can say about these films is they’re boring, and this one comes pretty close.
If I were to make a list of the things that make a good Olympics documentary, after watching so many of them, this entry would check a lot of the boxes. It’s got humor. It shows off the place the Olympics took place. It’s got quite a bit of behind-the-scenes looks at the lives of the athletes in the village. It explains sports and techniques, and does more than present a list of winners and losers. It’s not particularly nationalistic. It even has some truly goofy attempts at editing techniques. These are all things one might enjoy. Unfortunately, it’s also boring.
It’s mostly the fault of the narration. Somehow it never captivates. Even as the cinematography, the editing, the sound, all try and come together to present something of value, the narration drones. This isn’t a particularly long entry, especially by Olympic documentary standards, but the time really dragged. Overall I enjoyed the film, there was enough there for that, but it feels like a missed opportunity because it could be really great.
The biggest miss involves the story of Italian bobsledder Eugenio Monti. Monti is one of only five recipients of the Olympics highest individual honor, the Pierre de Coubertin medal, which is given for outstanding sportsmanship, and is basically never given out. Monti won his for giving a bolt from his bobsled to his competitors, who then won gold. It’s an outstanding story, and a real example of the possibilities of the Olympic spirit, and I’m disappointed it wasn’t mentioned. Hopefully, given that Monti won gold in 1968, it will be discussed in that film.