I tried to grasp the solemnity of the moment, when man defies his limits, and to express the solitude of the athlete who, in order to win, struggles against himself . . . I wanted people to rediscover with astonishment that wonder which is a human being.Kon Ichikawa
This is a masterpiece of poetic documentary filmmaking, presented in its original almost-three-hour version. Kon Ichikawa, inspired by Leni Riefenstahl’s immortal coverage of the 1936 Olympics, decided to make a documentary of the 1964 games in Tokyo. His project involved 164 camera operators (supervised by Kazuo Miyagawa and Shigeo Hayashida) plus a crew of 500, making it an Olympian feat. But Ichikawa was intent on making “a visual poem of peace and human equality.” The result: every frame is an exercise in film experimentation, “an idiosyncratic, formally innovative, and surprisingly intimate film” (James Quandt).