Bud Greenspan’s Athens 2004: Stories of Olympic Glory
All the usual Greenspan critiques apply to this film. It’s overly focused on winning. It doesn’t showcase the grandeur of the Olympic Games. It’s a bit too nationalistic, and too focused on the United States, although there is a better mixture of non-English speaking athletes in this one. It lives and dies with the drama it can find in any particular edition of the games.
At this point, so many films in, it’s very clear that nothing is going to change. Especially with these Made-for-TV editions. They are shorter and breezier and a lot less worthwhile. None of that is what I was thinking about while watching this film however.
The 2004 Athens games came around at the perfect moment for me to be absolutely enthralled and hooked in. I had just graduated college, I was living at home with my parents for the summer, I don’t think I had a job. I was basically perfectly positioned to completely lose my self to the television coverage, and that’s what I did. I watched a truly horrifying amount of these games, and so this is the first film in this series where I remember almost everything I’m being shown.
In particular, the film focuses on the story of the USA Women’s Softball team. A team I was nuts for. I watched all their games and I could still name like half the team from memory. I loved this team and so seeing them again all these years later made this entire film worth watching.
I’m still sad that these Greenspan films are what they are, and that they are what we have. But the Olympics shines bigger and brighter. Even if this one just reminded me of my joy, that was enough.