This isn’t a great artistic achievement and it’s also not a great document of history. All that’s left then is some pretty pictures and a lot of wasted potential.
I’ve mentioned many times through this journey, that there are multiple ways to make an Olympics documentary.
This one attempts to make you feel things, rather than learn things. On the surface, it’s a great way to evoke the experience, and it was used to create perhaps my favorite of these films, Tokyo Olympiad. As it turns out, it can also be used to far less successful effect.
This isn’t a bad film. It’s very pretty, as I expected given that it was directed by Carlos Saura. It’s completely lacking in narration, which helps mean that there is virtually none of the usual sexism, or nationalism, that spoils so many of these films.
The idea to center it around the titular marathon is a cool one. No film in the series had really done that, and it definitely provides an interesting pace.
Unfortunately, the marathon from Barcelona didn’t really feature anything all that interesting or extraordinary, so it doesn’t really pay off in any special way.
That lack of anything special is a part of why I found this film just ok. The total lack of narration creates a disconnect from what’s actually happening. Saura focuses very heavily on the running events, which is fine, but with no context we have very little idea of what matters or why.
The film manages to fail to convey the athletic achievements of the games, but also doesn’t really replace that failure with anything else. Previous entries have focused on the beauty of sport, or the lives of the participants, or the spectacle of the games, or the scenery.
Something that we can hold on to, and use to find a way in to the experience. This film is simply a montage of interesting shots, which quickly becomes boring and disconnected.