• Ravi Swami

"Visions of Eight", Dir: Various, 1972



"Visions Of Eight" on Criterion Channel, is a film made up of 8 very individual films by noted directors like Milos Foreman and Arthur Penn, of the '72 Olympics in Munich...yes,"that" Olympics covered in the 2005 film "Munich" and the 1999 drama doc' "One Day in September" - it's possible some footage from this film was used in the doc'.


I'm not a huge sports fan but this is definitely worth checking out for the unprecedented level of access to the athletes during events and at close quarters that we're unlikely to ever see again as a result of what transpired, and the films are never *just* interested in the competitive sports aspect in a live broadcast sense.


Arthur Penn's amazing high-speed footage of pole vaulters, Mai Zetterling's record of weightlifters depicted as obsessives, Milos Foreman's quirky coverage of the Decathlon and Claude Lalouche's dissection of athletes losing are stand-outs, but they are all excellent.


By the time John Schlesinger was shooting his segment, the hostage situation was already underway and his film segues into several shots of the German army helicopters landing and telephoto shots of the terrorists watching the crowds from a balcony, before rejoining the British long distance runner who is the subject of his segment.


Worth noting that this was a film intended to be seen in cinemas and the quality of the footage makes it seem like it was shot yesterday.


The executive producer, David L.Wolper, had initially intended for the film to be a multi-perspective film composed of the personal observations of the Olympics by the leading film directors of the day and had initially tapped Federico Fellini, who declined since he was busy working on "Amarcord" but who graciously allowed Wolper to use his name to attract other directors.


Mai Zetterling, representing Sweden in a multinational selection of directors to reflect the nature of the Olympics itself, admitted that she was not a sports fan but chose weight-lifting because she was fascinated by obsessives. Her film, like the others, reveals aspects of a sport that would be missed by the average spectator, either in the stadium or on TV, effectively putting the athletes under a microscope and leveraging techniques like high-speed photography to reveal muscles straining, faces grimacing and the blank stare of sprinters while simultaneously revealing the personal viewpoint and stylistic stamp of each of the directors.


"Visions Of Eight", Dir: Various, 1972

Criterion Channel

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