Blu-ray: Tokyo Olympiad (Criterion)

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Tokyo Olympiad


English Blu-ray Title (Region A)

Tokyo Olympiad

Sound:

Japanese (1.0 Mono)

Subtitles:
Length:
Release:
Company
:
Discs:
Aspect Ratio:

English
168 minutes
2020
Criterion
1
2.35:1 Anamorphic

Movie:

Tokyo Olympiad

Blu-ray

Extras

  • Menus (English)
  • Chapters (41)
  • Trailers: Tokyo Olympiad (2 trailers)
  • Audio Commentary by Peter Cowie from 2001
  • A Singular Vision: Kon Ichikawa's Tokyo Olympiad (31 minutes)
  • Film introduction by Peter Cowie (12 minutes)
  • Additional material introduction by Peter Cowie (9 minutes)
  • Tokyo Olympiad Additional Material: Track and Field (12 minutes)
  • Tokyo Olympiad Additional Material: Water Polo, Swimming, Sailing, Canoeing, Kayaking (40 minutes)
  • Tokyo Olympiad Additional Material: Football, Hockey, Basketball (16 minutes)
  • Tokyo Olympiad Additional Material: Wrestling, Weight Lifting, Cycling (16 minutes)
  • Interview with restoration producer Adrian Wood (7 minutes)
  • Interview with director Kon Ichikawa from 1992 (32 minutes)
  • Archival interview with director Kon Ichikawa #1 (3 minutes)
  • Archival interview with director Kon Ichikawa #2 (8 minutes)
 

Captures


Review

By: Anthony Romero

Criterion released a, for the time, pretty nice DVD for Tokyo Olympiad back in 2002. That went out of print, though, and started fetching very high prices on the secondary market. In fact, it was often hitting around $100. In late 2017, the film was finally re-released to home video... but found inside Criterion's 100 Years of Olympic Films box set. It was an impressive set, offering tons of films, but was not a cheap option. It retailed for around $170 on DVD or $240 on Blu-ray.

Thankfully, Criterion is revisiting the movie in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics... or at least that was the plan, as it released last year during the pandemic. Regardless of circumstance, this is a fantastic release. It offers excellent video and audio presentation for the movie, especially considering the circumstances of the film's preservation. What's really great, though, are the extras found on this release, many of which are new. In fact, the disc offers over 170 minutes of bonus content, offering a ton of material to look through.


 Video: Star Rating


Simply put, Tokyo Olympiad looks great here although isn't consistent. At its best, the colors are deep and vibrant. The image can also be sharp with rich detail while having a grain level that is consistent but not distracting. However, the look of the video track does range quite a bit. On occasion the image can be soft, while featuring a large degree of noise and signs of smearing with other artifacts. Other moments have the colors on a slightly more muted pallet as well. At other times the colors are too vibrant as they wash out details and also show smearing, which is very obvious on the deep reds of the Mexico team jackets. The culprit here is that the video track was actually created from a variety of different sources. This is probably not surprising given the reported damage that happened to the film sources to create ‎Sensation of the Century (1966). So in order to restore the 1965 movie, a 35mm camera negative of both films along with other 35mm camera negatives of sports compilation footage was used to create this release. The end result, while uneven at times, is likely the best the movie has ever looked since the original theatrical release.

Tokyo Olympiad is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1.

 

 Audio: Star Rating


The film's audio presentation here is a mono track in Japanese, featuring a combination of narration, musical score and audio captured at the events themselves. The quality here is pretty good, only really betrayed by the fact that it's a mono presentation. There are no overt discrepancies in the audio and the clarity is fairly good throughout. In fact, the only detraction is the lack of options, as there is just the single mono track provided. As some might know, the movie was actually originally created in stereo, similar to other 1960's movies from Toho like King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) or Sanjuro (1962) that used Perspecta Stereophonic Sound. However, this version of the film is reportedly lost, having been destroyed in the years since release. As a result, it's not fair to detract much from the audio for that missing element.

The audio track is presented in mono, in a one channel mode. The disc comes with optional English subtitles.

 

 Extras: Star Rating


In terms of bonus content, Criterion really pulls out all the stops. In fact, there are over 170 minutes of bonus content on here, not even counting the audio commentary track.

First up is a new documentary titled A Singular Vision: Kon Ichikawa's "Tokyo Olympiad". This 31 minute extra has new interviews done with the crew behind the 1965 film. While their insight isn't often deep in the movie itself, they have some nice personal stories about the project and director Kon Ichikawa. This feature is in Japanese with optional English subtitles.

Next we have a introduction by film historian Peter Cowie. This 12 minute extra is... great. I was surprised at the insight he packed into the feature, and is one of the better extras on a disc that features great bonus content.

Following this is another introduction by Peter Cowie, but this time to introduce the "additional material" found on the disc. This additional material is four separate videos, totaling over 80 minutes. This is footage that was recorded for the 1964 Olympics, including segments on Track and Field alongside Water Polo, Swimming, Sailing, Canoeing, Kayaking alongside Football, Hockey, Basketball and finally Wrestling, Weight Lifting, Cycling. While this coverage feels a bit more standard, with a lot of narration that focuses on the results, the footage itself is often presented in great quality and with a nice flair, such as slow motion at times to appreciate details. This extra is in Japanese with optional English subtitles.

After this comes a short seven minute interview with restoration producer Adrian Wood. For many films this might feel like a filler extra, but here it's highly informative. Tokyo Olympiad had a somewhat rocky treatment after its initial theatrical release, having the negative recut to create Sensation of the Century (1966). This extra documents this and the extreme amount of effort that went into trying to restore the original film from available material and is worthy of a watch.

Moving on we have two of the original Japanese trailers for the movie. The video and audio quality on these are a little lacking, but their inclusion is still welcome and they are featured with optional English subtitles.

Following this are two extras from 1964 that interview director Kon Ichikawa. One is a preproduction interview and the other is during the editing process. Both are 1.33:1 aspect and filmed in black and white. I'm not sure on the background, but I imagine they were filmed with the intent of airing them on TV, probably to promote the movie. The two extras aren't presented in the best quality, but given the historic aspect it's nice to have them.

Finally we'll touch on the features that were brought over from the earlier DVD release by Criterion. The first of these is an audio commentary track by film historian Peter Cowie. While the commentary is 20 years old, it's still highly informative both about the games, the film and the director. As a result, it's very much worth a listen.

Last but not least is an over 30 minute interview with director Kon Ichikawa. Filmed in 1992, the extra is featured in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Thankfully the extra is high definition here, so looks much better than its DVD counterpart. As before, it's a nice, more modern interview with the director that allows him to discuss the then current state of the Olympics and some of the events that took place while filming Tokyo Olympiad. The feature is in Japanese with English subtitles as an option.

 

 Overview: Star Rating


Bottom line, this is a fantastic Blu-ray. Fans of sports documentaries, film art in general... or those just looking for a very unique production on the Olympics are well suited to pick this one up. Not only is it a great presentation of the film, especially given the circumstance, but the extras are numerous.