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Tokyo Olympiad (The Criterion Collection)

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A spectacle of magnificent proportions, Kon Ichikawa's Tokyo Olympiad ranks among the greatest documents of sport ever committed to film. Utilizing glorious widescreen cinematography, Ichikawa examines the beauty and rich drama on display at the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo, creating a catalogue of extraordinary observations that range from the expansive to the intimate. The glory, despair, passion, and suffering of Olympic competition are rendered with lyricism and technical mastery, culminating in an inspiring testament to the beauty of the human body and the strength of the human spirit.

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital transfer and improved subtitle translation
  • Liner Notes by Legendary Sports Writer George Plimpton
  • Complete List of Winners In All Events
  • Symposium On Tokyo Olympiad, Excerpted From the Cinemathrque Ontario Book Kon Ichikawa

Product Details

  • Actors: Abebe Bikila, Jack Douglas, Hirohito
  • Directors: Kon Ichikawa
  • Writers: Kon Ichikawa, Natto Wada, Shuntaro Tanikawa, Yoshio Shirasaka
  • Producers: Asao Kumada, Jun Kiyofuji, Senkichi Taniguchi, Suketaru Taguchi
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: July 30, 2002
  • Run Time: 170 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006673O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,823 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Tokyo Olympiad (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Christopher B. Hoehne on October 17, 2002
Format: DVD
A lemon placed as a totem on a starting block. The torn feet of drained marathoner. The fleshy cheek of a shooter oozing over the butt of his rifle. The turkey-like jowls of older spectators. The squint against blinding lights of an athlete from Chad as he steps off a plane and into the alienation of city life for perhaps the first time. Rain on a sopping wet track. Trains clattering over bridges. The splat of a hammer in wet turf. The almost obsessive-compulsive preparation of a shot-putter has he prepares for his throw. The nonchalant strength and focus of a winning judo expert. A yachtsman, while leaning far out over the water to balance his craft, capricously dipping his hand into the water as it passes inches from his face. The giddy excitement of a little girl spectator clapping and cheering for the sake of it. A member of the American delegation breaking the solemn ranks of the opening ceremonies to chase away a pigeon.
All these things, and countless other human details, are elements that make up director Kon Ichikawa's loving portrait of human aspiration: "Tokyo Olympiad".
At least as important as what it does, is what "Tokyo Olympiad" does not do. Unlike television coverage of the last few Olympic games, it does not plead for our sympathy by drowning us in "human interest" stories of hardship, cancer and family tragedy. Unlike in newspaper and television coverage of the games, the politics and ambition of individual nations' teams is far in the background. Unlike Leni Reifenstahl's "Olympia", it does not hold the athletes up as demigods, asking us to fawn over the glorious perfection of their shining bodies and heroic achievement. And, most importantly, it does it seek present a complete account of the final results of the events.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Kockenlocker on June 14, 2002
Format: DVD
I am ordering this post-haste.
I had the extreme thrill of seeing this film several times on the huge movie screen of a theatre Toho operated in Los Angeles when the film was released. About five years ago, I saw it in a smaller theater and it holds up wonderfully.
This is one of the most majestic films I've ever seen, but it is also dramatically compelling with sequences that will always be memorable. Perhaps most memorable is the real sense of caring and comradre among ALL the athletes AND spectators. Since these Olympics, the games have degenerated into political doo-dah of the worst sort. These games and this film have a dignity, humaneness and spirit that has all but been lost.
This is worth owning just for the Ethiopian's winning of his second Olympic marathon in a row. I seldom care about sporting contests, but the marathon literally had me grasping the theatre seat and verbally pulling for this incredible man--who along with Ali--is the greatest athlete I've ever witnessed.
The American version praised by another reviewer here, was IMO one of the worst desecrations of a masterpiece I can imagine. It was cut from the almost three-hour original version to about 90-minutes and accompanied by the most inane sports announcing ever. If you saw this atrocity, you haven't seen "Tokyo Olympiad."
If you are an Olympic fan or love breathtaking, intelligent and humane filmmaking, Ichikawa gives you the royal treatment in this film.
Thank you, Criterion, for re-issuing this. My only regret is that it isn't being re-released in big-screen theatres, where it can be properly appreciated.
See this. I think most of you will be cheering this monumental achievement.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ted on October 4, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This review is for the Criterion Colleciton DVD edition of the film.

Tokyo Olympiad, known as Tokyo Orimpikku in the Japanese language, is the first Sports documentary released by the Criterion Collection. This film has gotten me interested in olympics and will pay more attention to it in the future.

The film covers some of the highlights of the 1964 summer olympic games in Tokyo Japan. It covers the construction of the stadium, opening and closing ceremonies, a scene of the cafeteria as well as the following sports. Men's 100 meter, men's high jump, men's and women's shot put, pole vaulting, hammer throw, men's 10,000 meter, women's 800 meter, men's 100 meter relay, men's long jump, women's 80 meter with hurdles, gymnastics, men's 100 meter freestyle swimming, women's 100 meter backstroke, men's freestyle relay. women's 100 meter freestyle, weightlifting,. wrestling, boxing, fencing, judo, shooting, cycling race, women's volleyball, boading, men's 50 kilometer walk, pentathalon and the marathon.

Several other sports were played, but not included in the film for the sake of brevity. Still the film runs at 2 hours and 50 minutes which was cut down from 70 hours of material.

This DVD release is one of the best released by the Criterion Collection which I have seen. This certainly is Kon Ichikawa's crowning achievement.

Right from the lighting of the cauldron by a man born in Hiroshima the exact day of the infamous bombing to the closing ceremonies opening the way for the games in Mexico City four years later.

The DVD has some fine special features also. There is a 1992 interview with director Kon Ichikawa and commentary by film scholar and olympic fan Peter Cowie.
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