Keep the Olympic spirit of the London 2012 Games alive with these five films that capture the Olympic passion, dedication, and determination that we all know and love.
1. Chariots of Fire (1981)
Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Chariots of Fire tells the story of two British track athletes at the 1924 Summer Olympics: a Scottish Christian running to honor God and an English Jew running to achieve social acceptance. This highly-acclaimed British film celebrates the perseverance and strength that these Olympians possessed both on and off the track.
2. Olympia (1938)
German film director Leni Riefenstahl shot Olympia, a documentary of the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics. Although used as a Nazi propaganda film, Olympia offers a stunning cinematic display of athleticism. This documentary—the first ever documentary feature film of the Olympic Games—includes the legendary sprint races of American track star Jesse Owens.
Miracle highlights one of America’s finest moments in Olympic history: the “Miracle on Ice” of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team. Kurt Russell stars as head coach Herb Brooks, who leads his team of collegiate athletes to victory over the heavily favored Soviet team. The Cold War rivalry of these two nations comes to the ice in this inspirational tale of Olympic success.
The 1972 Olympic Games in Munich were supposed to be “The Happy Games”; instead they became remembered for the Palestinian terrorist group that took eleven Israeli athletes from the Olympic Village, killing two and holding the rest hostage. One Day in September features footage from the actual events as well as interviews with the surviving terrorist and police officials. This Oscar winner for Best Documentary presents a factual yet captivating story of an Olympic comeback that went horribly wrong.
Million Dollar Legs (1932)
Million Dollar Legs, starring W.C. Fields and Jack Oakie, is the tale of one country’s hilarious and bizarre Olympic journey. Klopstokia, whose population is made up entirely of athletes, decides to enter the Los Angeles Games as a solution to their impending bankruptcy. Million Dollar Legs offers a lighter, comedic approach to the Olympic Games in the face of the many intensely emotional Olympic films.
Angela Monaco is a Spanish and Communications student entering her senior year at the University of Pittsburgh, currently interning at the Bryn Mawr Film Insitute.