The director of Fires on the Plain and An Actor's Revenge didn't seem the obvious choice to mastermind a record of the 1964 Olympics, and in the event Ichikawa's film didn't please all the people all the time. Most riled were probably the bona fide sports fans, because Ichikawa's attitude to the games and participants seems quizzical rather than committed, sensual rather than gutsy. Least riled were probably Ichikawa fans, because the unpredictable humour, the 'bold delicacy' of the visuals, and the occasional real intensity, are all quite consistent with his fiction films. The only sustained 'performance' is Abebe Bikila's triumph in the marathon, but the rest is funny, sexy, beautiful, or atmospheric enough to give a lot of pleasure to the open-eyed.
Natto Wada, Yoshio Shirasaka, Shuntaro Taninkawa
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