The Week in Uncollecting, 6/6/21-6/11/21

Okay, back on this weekly horse. However, there’s only one thing that I checked off all week (okay, technically two, but the book is for an upcoming Required Reading podcast, so I won’t include it here), which is a movie.

Over the course of several nights this week, I watched the five-hour version of Bud Greenspan’s seminal Olympics documentary, 16 Days of Glory. I actually covered this on Pop Culture Affidavit years ago (it’s one of my earliest posts), but that was via my memories of renting an edited-down, two-hour VHS version from my local video store. Here, HBO Max has given me the full treatment that comes courtesy of The Criterion Collection.

And what a treatment it is. Spanning the entire length and much of the breadth of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, it’s a beautifully crafted profile of the champions–and non-champions–who competed. Some of the most famous names from the ’84 Olympics are shown here, like Carl Lewis, Mary Lou Retton, and Greg Louganis, and it’s just amazing to see their athleticism and grace.

Plus, there’s the humanity behind a lot of the athletes. NBC would take this and turn it into schmaltz 10,000 times over (especially when it comes to the women’s gymnastics team), but Greenspan does it with a steady hand, letting the athletes and their stories speak for themselves. Best of all, everything is segmented, so you could watch this over the course of a few nights instead of carving out most of your day.

This is going to be a really short entry because I honestly can’t say go watch all of this enough times. HBO Max has a ton of these Olympics documentaries available for streaming and I’ve already moved on to the Calgary 1988 one. Watch them to gear up for Tokyo this summer.

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