This film is hailed as a monumental step forward in Olympic films, but I don’t feel that way at all. This is the beginning of an overly limited focus.

united states, 1986, english


16 Days of Glory

I’ve arrived at the Bud Greenspan era of these Olympic films. Nine of the next eighteen films were directed or produced by him. I have somewhat mixed feelings about this. As I continue to note, there are many different approaches to making an official Olympics documentary. The Greenspan approach is to treat it almost exclusively as a sporting event. I understand why some people enjoy that, but for me it misses the bigger picture.

This was a perfectly well made documentary, and it’s certainly nice to see the focus placed on the individual people who competed in these games. It’s also nice that he doesn’t just focus on winners, but sometimes just on interesting people or stories. Still, the entire film is presented a series of competitive vignettes, and the Olympics should be about so much more than that.

The Olympics is a world-wide cultural event. It has a significance that far outweighs records and winners and even athletics. The various films in this series so far have all tried to capture that spirit in some fashion. My favorite approach has been the ones that try to convey the feeling of being a part of the event. The spectacle, the culture, the people, the spectators, the place, the time.

This was just about the sports. The sports are important, but to focus so exclusively on them leaves a lot to be desired. I’m also sad that this is the beginning of a formula. To this point the various films were about as varied as can be. I hope that isn’t lost.