Films of the Olympics, 1900-1924

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I went to the BFI last night to watch The Olympic Games on film, 1900-1924, a fascinating set of vintage films.

The films revealed much about the Olympics - sometimes bad, such as the frankly racist Anthropological Days which tried to show that white people were a physically superior race.

The best stories came from the marathons, such as, in St Louis in 1904, the chap who came second travelled some of the race in a truck, the fairly widespread use of strychnine as a performance enhancer, and Dorando Pietri's misadventures from London's 1908 Olympics.

My highlight came from the 1924 Paris Olympics with the images of the control station - the runners came in, sweating, panting, exhausted, and the French served up glasses of red and white wine. Brilliant.