13 Days in France

An absolutely beautiful and fascinating film. It’s nice to see that after so many entries, there can still be a total surprise.

After watching the first 26 films in this set in a sort of feverish frenzy, I have now taken quite a long break in-between entries. It was definitely a needed pause. After a while, all these Olympic films can start to blend together a bit. That’s not to say I don’t love watching them, just that it is definitely possible to have too much of a great thing. Taking some time off allowed me to invest in this film fully, and to appreciate everything it had to offer, which turned out to be quite a lot.

The film opens by saying it’s not the official film of 1968’s X Olympic Winter Games in Grenoble, and the film is not a statement. That second part is quite debatable, but the first part at least is mostly true. The film was made primarily by director Claude Lelouch and partner Fran├žois Reichenbach, of F for Fake fame, out of footage they shot on their own at the games. The entire thing is without narration, and mostly wordless, and follows the games around in a mostly unstructured way. It allows the viewer to feel the games, more than learn about them.

I say the text at the beginning about not being a statement is debatable primarily for a couple of songs that play in the film. The main one being over shots of Olympic sensation Jean-Claude Killy. The song describes in very specific details the challenges of being suddenly revered and heroic to the population. It discusses the ways in which the public demand of their heroes, and the challenges any normal person would have in rising to those demands. It is most definitely a statement, and a very prescient one at that.