White Rock

A randomly perfect entry in the middle of a series that has only a few highs, thankfully only a few lows, and mostly mids. This is a high, and I’ll be enjoying that high for a while.

What a breath of fresh air this is. After so many Olympics documentaries, it’s wonderful that something totally new can still come around.

This movie is unlike any other in this series, and that’s a very good thing indeed.

What makes it so different is two choices that probably shouldn’t work, but surprisingly do. The first is focus on music as the driving force of the film. Everything here is set to specific music, that leads the action as it plays out.

It works so beautifully. The music supports the action perfectly, and really highlights the insanity of what’s happening.

It combines with some unusually interesting camera choices to make a film that doesn’t really look like any of the others.

The second choice is arguably more of a risk. This film is the first in this series to have a host who is onscreen for most of the running time.

The host is actor James Coburn, a classic man’s man who is clearly so excited to be doing all of this. He tries out various sports and presents everything like it’s literally life and death. It should absolutely not work at all.

Somehow it’s charming and delightful, and keeps things moving at a pace that is way above most of this films.

The film does the smart thing of not trying to present everything that happened at the games. In fact it presents almost nothing about winners, losers, or even individual athletes.

Instead it tries to focus in on a couple of events, and really give you the feeling of participation. The shots of the bobsled and the luge are almost overwhelming in making you feel the speed of the sport.

The section about ski jumping made me enjoy something I usually find pretty boring. It’s so nice to be surprised with something new.

austria, 1977, 2.39:1, english