The 2016 Rio Olympics, however successful and safe they will amount to be, is coming like winter. As is the case with every Olympics, excitement becomes an understatement for tons of athletes, fans, and armchair enthusiasts world-wide. The defeats, wins, and record breaking performances are certainly a spectacle which has been elevated to new heights thanks to social media and tech in general, and let's not forget shameless bravado made popular by the late Muhammad Ali.
While now is always an impressive time to be in, the past preserves absolute time, complete with layers and layers of all the dirt and refuse, interlaced with deposits of cultural diamonds.
One such diamond is 16 Days of Glory, a documentary of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, directed by Bud Greenspan and narrated by Greenspan's brother, David Perry. Perry's almost computer-like delivery is brilliant and direct, backed with fan cheers, inserted participant dialogue and vignettes, and a musical score, in true '80s form, elicits added emotional connection. The attention and depth of the back stories of athletes are captivating, especially for a wide-eyed seven year old (me watching it for the first time back in '86).
Vignettes include a juxtaposition between Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis, a massive emotional explosion between Bela Karolyi and Mary Lou Retton which reminds me of everyone's reaction to McKayla Maroney's jaw-dropping vault at London's 2012 Games, a beautiful segment with diver Greg Louganis and coach Ron O'Brien, and the chill inducing, heat resisting, stadium entry of Joan Benoit at the end of the first-ever Olympic women's marathon. (Damn, it's good to see that USA on the front of Benoit's jersey as she enters the stadium and also amazing to see the late Grete Waitz come in second.)
16 Days of Glory is not superficially digestible televised candy celebrating forgettable human idiocy, it is a savory treat which educates, mesmerizes, and entertains all at once.