Olympic Blurb: The First Olympics Movie Review and Weekly Wrap-Up

I was wrapping up my writing of last week's Olympic Blurb when something came across my Twitter feed from my favorite Olympic podcast, Olympic Fever:

After I saw that, I knew what the subject of this week's Blurb would be! 

On Monday I sat down to watch Part 1 (and you should click here just to hear the fabulous opening credits score) and finished on Part 2, and I was so excited to watch! 

When I first began to watch, I was expecting to see a documentary narrated by David Ogden Stiers. That was okay; I'm used to Olympic documentaries. But then the opening credits began, and I excitedly realized this was a TV movie from the 1980s! Those are my favorite kind of movies! Somehow the film style of the early 1980s combined with the historical costumes and design make for the perfect movie in my books. It's probably why I adore such movies as Hoosiers, Chariots of Fire (which will need to make an appearance in my Olympic Film Festival soon), and The Man from Snowy River

I chose to write this review before listening to Olympic Fever's podcast about it, and if you'd like to hear their take - plus some fun bonus content revolving around James Conolly's Olympic collection that's in Boston and the United States' choice of national anthem for 1896 - you can find it if you click here!

The movie itself is a 2-part story that mainly revolves around the announcement of the first modern Olympic games in Athens, Greece, and the United States' movement to send a team halfway around the world to compete. There are two other storylines that revolve around an Australian runner, Edwin Flack, and the first gold medalist in the marathon, Greek soldier Spyridon Louis, but a majority of time is spent on the American college students that are encouraged to join the team by Doctor William Sloane. 

It is fascinating to see these men as they develop their skills without observing others. The boys from Princeton had to make their shot put and discus equipment based on the Greek artwork they saw in books! (As a result, the discus was way too big!) Finesse was not something that every athlete had, and it's interesting to realize that these athletic events weren't commonplace even 150 years ago! (Most people were just trying to survive, to be honest.)

The events in Athens were really shortened in order to fit them in the time frame - we only saw single attempts instead of the several rounds that they actually had. For the interest of dumb Americans, they inserted some Americans into events that they weren't actually in! (I'm looking at you, 800 meters.) 

But I have to say that the biggest omission this movie had was the exclusion of Baron Pierre de Coubertin's mustache! The man that played him did a great job, but to not have that signature mustache was absolutely criminal. I couldn't let that go. 

Even with those negative points, I enjoyed a lot of this movie. The score, composed by Bruce Broughton, fit the movie perfectly, and I would like the opening credits music to be included in NBC Olympic broadcast coverage from now on. Here - if you didn't listen to it yet, you can do it now. (I love it that much!) Bonus - the opening credits include the posters of the Olympics that have taken place!

When someone says "Olympics," it is easy to think of those early Greek games that are displayed on pottery and include naked dudes. But the first modern Olympics took place in the Victorian era - not that long ago! It was a time when sports and world competitions were brand new ideas, and everything had a little more of a refined nature to them because rich people were a refined sort.

Sports modernized and became more inclusive, but it is always good to see how things first came about. If anything, it's a great opportunity to thank those - like de Coubertin - for having this idea and executing it so well that it's become an enduring world-class event! I think the movie pulled that off very well. 

Even if historical movies made in the 1980s aren't your think, please take a couple of nights and enjoy this. Remember the Hollywood additions, but also keep in mind the spirit of the movie - a chance to show us all just how far these Olympic Games have gone!

Tokyo 2020 Prep

I watched the Tokyo Cup gymnastics competition, which took place at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. This was where the gymnastics events took place in the 1964 Olympics, but the venue is too small for modern gymnastics. Instead, that is where the table tennis competition will take place! (Another competition I'd love to see!)

We also have a theme to the torch relay (which I guess is a thing...) called "Hope Lights Our Way." The flame will visit all the Japanese prefectures and spend significant time in the areas affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. 

Mini Blurbs
  • Here's this week's BlurbWatch:
    • running
    • baseball
    • swimming
    • artistic gymnastics
    • acrobatic gymnastics...?
  • Yeah, about that acrobatic gymnastics - I did not intend on watching this. I made a mistake on my DVR and thought I was recording regular artistic gymnastics, and then suddenly I'm watching the men's pairs event where one guy is balancing on top of another guy's head and one is throwing the other one around the mat in a routine! I was going to turn it off...but then I ended up watching the whole thing. There was also a ladies' trio event, and that was way more interesting than the men's pairs because they could stack up into crazy balancing configurations! 
  • I finally watched the Paris Marathon from last weekend, and the TV coverage was all in French with a British commentator, so all the graphics on the screen were in French! 
  • They ended the marathon on cobblestones, which must have been so hard not just for the runners, but also for the wheelchair racers. Speaking of wheelchair racers - we got extensive coverage of the men's event...but nothing for women! Did they not have one?
  • At about the 2-hour mark, Amane Gobena of Ethiopia, a favorite to win the whole thing, ended up running into a water table and had to pull out of the race! Someone was in front of her and I assume she just didn't see the first table until the other runner moved and it was too late for her to adjust. It was a shame. 
  • We have seven countries in initial talks to host the 2026 Winter Olympics. They include the Austrian Olympic Committee (Graz), the Canadian Olympic Committee (Calgary), the Italian Olympic Committee (Cortina d’Ampezzo/Milan/Turin), the Japanese Olympic Committee (Sapporo), the Swedish Olympic Committee (Stockholm), the Swiss Olympic Association (Sion), and the Turkish Olympic Committee (Erzurum). 
  • Japan seems highly unlikely since Asia is hosting three Olympics (one summer, two winter) in a row, and it seemed from early reports that Calgary wasn't going to last a week, but Canadian athletes have stepped forward to encourage Canadians to support an initial bid. 
  • Fun fact: Salt Lake City was considering a bid for 2026 but decided that a bid for 2030 might make a little more sense. I'd take a semester-long sabbatical to help in Salt Lake City!
  • I watched the TYR Pro Series swim meet from Mesa, Arizona this weekend. Aside from the normal events, they had an interesting knockout procedure in the 50 meters. In the course of about 30 minutes, they had an 8-person quarterfinal, a 4-person semifinal, and a 2-person final, alternating between the women and the men. For a spectator, it seems odd to have a field whittled down to just two swimmers, but for the athletes themselves, they must love to swim in such smooth water for that final!
  • MICHAEL PHELPS ALERT! No, he's not competing. He was at the Mesa meet (I think he lives in Arizona) and when NBC's cameras caught him, he was holding his son, Boomer, who is so big! 
  • Like I mentioned, I caught the gymnastics Tokyo Cup, and the men's and women's all-around competitions were taking place at the same time. Two men's events were competed without ladies' events (men do six events while the women do four), but for the other four rounds they would alternate between one man, then one woman. I loved it! I know it's impossible to do this kind of thing at the Olympics, but I enjoy when they do this for smaller gymnastics events. 
Tomorrow is a big event: the Boston Marathon! I was not one of those in America who got a foot of snow this weekend and I will still have school tomorrow, but I have started to make the Boston Marathon a must-DVR event and I'll make sure to write about it after I've gotten the chance to watch it.

Next Sunday's Blurb will be all about the Olympic Channel YouTube page, which has been really killing it as of late. I'll talk about reasons why you should definitely subscribe if you are an Olympics fan!

My name is Claire Nat! You can follow me on Twitter @CeePipes for lots of Olympic comments, or follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/blurbmusings. Check out my blog for other articles!


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