The 10 Best Olympics Movies
Like most of the world, you’re probably glued to the 2012 Olympic games. However, when you’re stricken by a few hours of Olympic blackout, there’s only one way to get your fix. That is, watch these 10 films about Olympic Games of years past as a way of coping.
A lot of drama took place during the 1980 Olympics. The United States boycotted the Moscow Summer Olympics due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. However, what everyone remembers was the “Miracle on Ice” that happened at the Winter Olympics. ‘Miracle’ recounts that historic game and the events that led up to it. A must for fans of the Olympics and ’80s sports movies in general.
‘One Day in September’
Not all Olympic stories are inspiring, and the 1972 Munich Olympics is perhaps the most depressing. Trying to erase the stain of Nazism, German officials were unprepared when armed terrorists broke into the Israeli team’s quarters and held them hostage. A tense standoff followed which culminated in their tragic end. ‘One Day in September’ follows the events of that dark day.
After you’ve seen ‘One Day in September,’ you’re prepared for Steven Spielberg’s thriller, ‘Munich.’ This “inspired by true events” film takes place right after the Munich massacre and Israel’s response — namely the assassination of any Palestinian thought to be involved in it. Initially gung-ho, the assassins slowly begin to succumb to doubts, anxieties and to assassinations themselves. The protagonist, Avner (Eric Bana), wonders if the men he’s killing had anything to do with Munich at all. While it’s always best to take films with the tagline “inspired by true events” with a grain of salt, ‘Munich’ still remains a great political thriller despite its questionable authenticity.
On a lighter note, the “true story” of the first Jamaican bobsled team is a fan favorite. Again, the words “true story” should be viewed with skepticism, but we’ll allow it since this film is so entertaining. And inspiring. If you’re one of the few people who haven’t seen it, take a look at the trailer and see what you’re missing.
The 1936 Berlin Olympics have been the subject of unlimited scholarship and scrutiny. And understandably so, since the Nazis used the games as a propaganda piece for their ideology. Leni Riefenstahl’s 1938 documentary of the event is viewed by some as a willing partner to the Nazi propaganda machine, whereas others see it as simply a historic record. While footage of Hitler and other Nazis will be jarring to modern viewers, the film is valuable simply as a time capsule of a world that most people nowadays will never be able to fully understand.
Another “based on a true story” film, but one you’ve probably never heard about. In 1936, yielding to pressure from the IOC, the Nazis actually allowed a Jewish athlete, Gretel Bergmann, to compete for them as a high jumper. However, as expected, they did whatever they could to discourage her and thwart her chances of winning. ‘Berlin 36′ is an interesting piece of forgotten history.
‘The Jesse Owens Story’
Another story from the Berlin Olympics, and another you may have missed. Who can forget Jesse Owens and his legendary victory in the games, causing Hitler to storm out of the stadium fuming? Apparently this story is rooted more in myth than reality, but Jesse Owens’ triumph is inspiring nonetheless. Check it out in this made-for-TV drama, costarring ‘Happy Days’ alum Tom Bosley as Jimmy Hoffa.
By the early 1960s, Japan had rebounded from World War II and had rejoined the international community enough to be allowed to host the Olympic games. This documentary captures the hope, drama, sweat and tears that made the 1964 Olympics historic.
‘Chariots of Fire’
The British film ‘Chariots of Fire’ told the story of two athletes, one a devout Christian and the other a Jew, and their experiences in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Also included is anti-Semitism, class relations, national pride, hope, and a lot of Oscar-winning drama. While highly recommended, viewers should remain skeptical of its “based on a true story” tagline. As we’ve seen, that usually means more fiction than fact.
The tragic yet inspiring story of runner Steve Prefontaine is captured in this moving film that proved Jared Leto had dramatic chops. Leto is joined by a star-studded cast, including the great R. Lee Emery as Coach Bill Bowerman, who went on to co-found Nike. The film was released a year before another Prefontaine movie, ‘Without Limits,’ which starred Billy Crudup. Watch both as a double feature to determine which one does Prefontaine justice.