10 videos about the London Olympics

We had a quiz about the Olympics at the last Headstart Day. I think the best round was probably the video round – so I thought I’d post a series of videos offering different takes on London’s Olympics and the Olympics generally. Enjoy.

1. Inspiration – Daryl Goodrich (2005)
The film made as a part of London 2012’s bid submission to the IOC, credited with winning London the Games. It shows London’s vision of a generation of (adorably cute) children around the world being inspired by the London Olympics to take up sport and becoming (beautiful) Olympic athletes. This would have played well with Jacques Rogge, the IOC’s president, who has focused the Olympic movement on young people in recent years – January this year saw the first Winter Olympic Youth Games in Innsbruck.

If that video isn’t showing you can play it out of Daryl Goodrich’s showcase.

2. Save the Marshes – Orangeleaf Productions (2012)
It’s a little bit annoying as it doesn’t outline the context – is it a film about The East Marsh being used for a coach park, Leyton Marsh being used for a Paralympic Basketball court or some bits of the bottom of Hackney Marshes that were absorbed into the Olympic Park 6 years ago? Still, a good anecdotal illustration of elite sport encroaching on community sport and livelihoods on Hackney Marshes.

3. Torch – AJ RIvers & Marc Silver (2010)
This is a beautifully articulated (and illustrated) rant about the political promises made by politicians to bring the Olympics to town, and their failure to ring true to people like AJ. This film really needs to be made, and they seem like great people to do it. If you like this – check out Tessa Jowell and Tani G-T going head to head with Will Self on Newsnight.

4. The Tokyo Olympiad – Kon Ichikawa (1964
Every Olympics is recorded in an official film. The best known of these is Leni Riefenstahls’s Olympia, the official film of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Her film is widely recognised as a landmark in documentary film making. I think Kon Ichikawa’s film has similar landmark status too. It’s significant that he chose to focus less on who won and more on  the aesthetics of athleticism. I’ve put in links to the gymnastics and 100m final for a comparison between an aesthetic form of competition, and a brutal dash for the line. Both are equally beautiful.

5. Days of Glory – Bud Greenspan (1984)
Another official Olympic film here, directed by Bud Greenspan. Like Ichikawa, Greenspan also eschewed focusing solely on the race, preferring to look at the back-story behind the athletes and their struggles to be a part of something bigger than themselves. I love the way he pronounces ‘Dave Morecroft’ – like he’s in the A-Team or something. I have also stuck in the section that shows the first Moroccan/Muslim/Woman winning a gold medal which is the kind of symbolic kryptonite that powers the Olympic mothership around the world.

6. What have you done today Mervyn Day? – Saint Etienne (2005)
You can get the whole thing here. But here’s a trailer anyway. It’s a film about a boy riding around the Lower Lea Valley on the morning after London won Olympics, shot and sound-tracked by St Etienne. The message is clear – in 2005, by most people’s standards, the Lower Lea Valley was a bit of a dump, but a dump that alot of people were actually quite fond of.

7. Twenty Twelve – John Morton (2011)
Things that come off the iplayer and get posted on youtube don’t tend to last very long, but here’s a clip from the BBC 4 comedy Twenty Twelve anyway. The series rips it out of those responsible for organising the games. But by also ripping it out of everyone involved in the whole thing (activists, archaeologists, environmentalists, artists) it ends up not really feeling like a very powerful satire, and almost like yet more PR for the real life Organising Committee. A bit like when, at the end of the term, your teachers cross-dress and put on animal costumes for the staff review. How dangerous can a satire be if the person who is in charge of the thing being satirized is happy to take part (Seb Coe has a cameo). There are serious questions to be raised about the organisation of the Olympics – the position of sponsors and the worship of their interests/the lack of real and emotional ownership of the new ‘park’/the ‘affordability’ of housing in the Olympic Village after the games/the act of parliament that makes this all possible. Twenty Twelve doesn’t question any of these things but, yeah. If you can get past that, it is actually quite funny. Here’s some of the interviews for the director of the cultural Olympiad.

8. Children of Glory – Krisztina Goda (2006)
Film about the ‘Blood in the Water’ polo match at the 1956 Olympics.

9. Black Power Salute – Geoff Small (2008)
Another film about an interesting episode –  this time from 1968 . Steve Redgrave recently wrote some interesting stuff about the role of the other man on the podium, Peter Norman. If you want the horrific untold story of the backdrop to the Mexico Olympics – have a look for Rojo Amancer.

10. The Cotswold Olympicks
I know it’s more of a clip than a film but still. Funny. Vice did a good piece on the Cotswolds Olympicks last year, there’s also something on Radio 3 this Saturday.

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