A delightful film, that is perhaps a bit longer than it needs to be, but is ultimately well worth the time.

japan, 1972, japanese


Sapporo Winter Olympics

The word that most prominently comes to mind when thinking about this film is charming. It didn’t start out that way. This is, in many ways, a much more straightforward exercise than it’s predecessor. There is a return to a focus on the athletes of the host country. We see more national anthems, although it’s still not a main interest area of the film. We are told much more about who won, and only who didn’t win if they are also Japanese. It’s a long film. But, after about the midway point, it opened up and became a surprisingly enjoyable one.

There is just something about all the little details that were included. The focus on one particular Japanese athlete who did very well in non-Olympic competition over the years, but failed to medal in speed skating. The look at the athletes village, and the people who build and maintain the events. More of the crowd than I’ve seen in most of the previous films. There were just so many small moments, that all filled me with warmth. The film reveled in happiness, as well as in the irreverent. The Olympics are meant to be a coming together of so many different people, and it’s nice to be reminded of that.

Another thing I really enjoyed was an audio interview with the only gold medalist from Japan, which is overlaid with footage from a couple of events. He’s a ski jumper and he talks about the feeling of being in the air, and the difficulty he imagines he’s going to have once the Olympics are over. He has a wonderfully thoughtful perspective, and it’s so refreshing to get a window into the inner life of one of these athletes. In basically every other film they have been mysterious names, this is the first one who became something of a person.