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Olympia: The Complete Original Version (The Leni Riefenstahl Archival Collection)

4.0 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Commissioned by Hitler as propaganda, this film of the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics is a tribute to human grace. Directed by Leni Riefenstahl.

Special Features

  • Deleted scene: "Olympia Oath"
  • Alternate scenes
  • Essay by film historian David Calvert Smith
  • Director bio
  • Still gallery
  • Archival short film Jugend Der Welt ("Youth of the World"), official documentary of the 1936 Winter Olympics
  • Archival short film Die Kamera Fahrt Mit ("The Camera Goes Along"), featuring footage from Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia and Triumph of the Will

Product Details

  • Directors: Leni Riefenstahl
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Collector's Edition, Color, Dolby, Full length, Limited Edition, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Pathfinder Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 27, 2006
  • Run Time: 204 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FQJA2S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,423 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Olympia: The Complete Original Version (The Leni Riefenstahl Archival Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. C. Hociota on July 2, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Olympia is a piece of sport history coated in a magnificent art form. The superlatives aren't enough to describe this documentary; a veritable time machine traveling to an amazing and Orwellian future Valhalla called Nazi Germany.

1936 Olympiad was also well renown for the first to be broadcast on a form of television. This DVD sadly has an image quality comparable to what the citizens of Berlin saw on those twenty five large screens scattered along the City's main boulevards 70 years ago. Having seen some excerpts from "Olympia" in the documentary `The Wonderful Horrible life of Leni Riefenstahl" on DVD, I had great expectations concerning the image quality of this new release. What a disappointment! No one bothered to digitally remove the annoying scratches not mentioning the total absence of any timid tentative of restoration of a decent audio sound. Everything seems like a low resolution transfer from a cheap VHS . Let's hope that some day Criterion Collection will do this film the justice it deserves.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The original, as I viewed it on public television perhaps twenty years ago, was spectacular.

But the problems in this version are not just superficial and are not simply ones that some hyper-purist would notice. They include tiling, caused by extreme compression; scratches and blips galore; grey tonal quality converging on nil, and sometimes making it seem like one is looking through a duststorm; ridiculous cropping of the image, often even cutting off the heads of the subjects. The audio's flaky, too, especially noticeable in the sometimes lurching, but always tinny rendition of the orchestral scoring.

Weirdly, the package seems to have been conceived well, with nice features included. How is it possible, then, to have messed up the technical execution so badly?
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I have been waiting for Criterion to release this for 4 years now. With the technology of restoration of older films vastly improving I must say this is the worst transfer that I have seen of an older film released in the last two years. Don't spend your money on this edition and hope that Criterion will release this in our lifetime!
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Format: DVD
Part I
The film opens up with a film tribute to the history of Greece and the games. We get to see the names of the nations at the time that the torch passes through as it reached Berlin. A much more realistic torch than today's is ran into the stadium with a few pauses to let everyone see just before the final dash to the Olympic torch at the stadium. It would be great to recapture this in the present day. Some of the tribute leads me to believe that our athletes are overly clothed for the sports.

Part II
By now watching Part I, "Festival of the nation" spoiled you. Again this film starts out with the ideal and surrounded by Leni's signature clouds. List is leading you to "field hockey, soccer bicycling, equestrian, aquatic and gymnastic events. Highlights are the Pentathlon and the Decathlon." Remember that some countries were still using horses in the military.

It may be unique reasons that brought you to this point such as Leni or photography, or interest in history, or, or, or. But once the action starts you feel that you are there and get lost in the "who will win what and how." Even being aware of the outcome does not prepare you to "not bite your nails" as you watch each athlete barley besting the next until it is over too soon. I noticed that instead of placing medals over the winners, they used laurel wreaths.
Any way you cut it, this movie is worth watching.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
When I found this dvd on Amazon, I was delighted to see Riefenstahl's classic had been updated with this 2009 digital transfer. I quickly ordered it from Amazon.com. When I viewed this dvd, I could have cried. The digital transfer was just horrible. Also, this dvd's running time is listed as 300 min. The correct running time should be 204 min Please be wise and don't waste your money on this dvd.
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This disk is terrible. It is obviously cheaply digitized from a poor master tape. Don't purchase products by Pathfinder Home Entertainment, if this is an example of their business practice.
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Format: DVD
I have long owned a VHS copy of Olympia, and it wasn't visually bad, but of course I longed for the improvement a DVD version might bring. This release was a surprise - it seems to be not an optical transfer, but a DVD of the VHS version, horizontal analogue scan lines and all, and visually a disappointment. I realise that a total restoration is expensive and that the market for this kind of thing is relatively small, and I'll live with what I can get, but if Criterion ever releases a restored version, I'll be first in line. Until then, concentrate on the hypnotic, iconic content. As an avowed curmudgeon, I'm offended by yahoo patriots at international sporting events chanting USA!USA! from the bleachers. There they were, in 1936, chanting for Jesse Owens as he won four golds - then and there the patriot war cry seemed right.
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Format: DVD
Olympia is a movie that resides in the Public Domain. Every version I have ever found is of the same quality and this version is no different. The DVD offers no frills but when you buy this movie, it is not for the frills, it is for the movie.

It was the 1936 Berlin Games that introduced the opening ceremony, the torch relay, the three-tiered presentation ceremony, and the overall sense of lavish, religious spectacle. In a way these are the first modern games. Does it worry you that most of the stuff we most fondly associate with the Olympics originated with the Nazis? It doesn't worry me: the Nazis' moral sense may have been deplorable, but their aesthetic sense was not nearly so bad as people like to pretend.

The greatest thing about this movie is that even though the subject matter is repugnant, the film is done in great taste and Leni Riefenstahl is a genious.
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