Fans of the Olympic Games and its rich history of competition will surely enjoy an upcoming box set release from The Criterion Collection. The video company is known for its beautiful widescreen editions of classic films and celebrated independent releases, often with supplemental material such as commentaries, documentaries and booklets that provide much more background and insight into those movies.
Now, a century’s worth of Olympic films are getting the Criterion treatment in a staggering 32-disc Blu-ray set (43 discs, if you opt for DVD) that chronicles the history of the Olympics captured by filmmakers and the athletes who competed in those events. The package will retail at $319.96 and be released on Dec. 5.
This massive box set includes 53 movies covering 41 editions of the Olympic Games restored for this collection, beginning with the 1912 Games in Stockholm, Sweden and concluding with the 2012 Olympics in London.
Check out the trailer for the collection, which provides a glimpse at many of the gorgeous opening ceremonies, impressive global backdrops during training and competition, and, of course, the renowned athletes and historical figures whose feats we’ve witnessed over the decades of international competition.
Despite the hefty price tag and a collection of films that will take a considerable amount of time to finish, the opportunity to see events such as Jesse Owens competing in Berlin during the 1936 games and Leni Riefensthal’s infamous Olympia, which chronicled those Games but is often viewed as Nazi propaganda, is a look not only through sports history, but world history.
Think of the hundreds of moments and athletes from your own memory, and they’re almost certain to be included here. Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic torch in Atlanta (or boxing as Cassius Clay in the 1960 Rome Games), Mary Lou Retton, Michael Phelps’s amazing run of gold medal glory, Usain Bolt’s blazing dominance on the track,Mark Spitz, the Beijing opening ceremonies directed by filmmaker Zhang Yimou, Carl Lewis, Janet Evans, Katie Ledecky — there are literally too many to list, and which of them you recall best will obviously vary.
You can view a list of the films included in the Olympic Films set at the Criterion Collection website, which also comes with a 216-page hardcover book featuring hundreds of photographs from those 41 Olympic competitions, in addition to a history of the overall project and the restoration process for these films.
The Criterion Collection’s 100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912-2012 will be released on Dec. 5. This could provide quite a bit of entertainment for the holidays.