The Games of the V Olympiad Stockholm, 1912
I’m an unabashed Olympics junkie. Every two years, I do basically nothing else but watch along. I absolutely love it. I’m not sure exactly why. Perhaps it’s something about it being the only time where nationalism feels like a positive force, rather than a negative one. Perhaps I just like obscure sports. Whatever the reason is, I’m completely hooked. I am, therefore, understandably extremely excited for this set of films. So excited, in fact, that I’m going to try and write something about each entry in the set. We’ll see how it goes.
This isn’t technically a documentary from 1912. The footage is, but the film we see was assembled from archival footage in 2016. Perhaps that’s why there’s no real constructive narrative to be found. It’s not hard at all to tell that this is purely an assemblage of whatever footage could be found from the games. It’s not particularly cinematic either, featuring mostly unhelpfully brief shots of various athletic events. None of that matters of course, it’s simply fascinating that we get to see this stuff at all.
The Olympics of 1912 were, of course, very different from the Olympics of 2012. That’s not really surprising. It’s great fun to see things like the Tug of War as an official event, or the shooting of cardboard deers. What is surprising is that it’s not as different from the modern games as I might have thought. A lot has changed, but a lot hasn’t. This is still perfectly identifiably the games I know and love. It’s so crazy that this has been going on, interrupted only by war, since 1896. Maybe it’s for that reason that I love it so much, it’s one of the few stable peaceful traditions we have.