Tokyo Olympiad 1964: Amazing Documentary by Ken Ichikawa

The world has watched the Olympics in London, now continuing.  It’s interesting to go back a ways and see an Olympics from an earlier time, Tokyo 1964.  It was the first big international event held in that country since the war ended.  You see Olympian runners who weren’t sponsored by international corporations, just regular guys and gals:  plumbers, teachers, and so on.  Swimming styles were different, track shoes were just regular old Adidas, and the East African marathoners didn’t even wear shoes anyway.   The cold war was in full swing, with the Soviet Union and the USA vying for dominance.  America was in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement.  It was just four years before Tommy Smith raised his fist in protest in Mexico City, wearing his gold medal.   It’s a fascinating documentary and although a time capsule, it is timeless.

You can go thirty years further back and see another amazing Olympics film, this time from Hitler’s Germany by a young, talented, and adoring film maker, Leni Riefenstahl.  The film sought to depict the superiority of Aryan athletic process, but instead it was African Americans like Jesse Owens who were winning events, just like Joe Louis had defeated Max Schmeling three years earlier.



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