First: The Official Film of the 2012 Olympic Games (E) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Caroline Rowland, UK, 2012, 109 mins

Cast: David Rudisha, Laura Trott, John Orozco, Missy Franklin, Katie Taylor, Chad le Close:

Review by Carlie Newman

Commissioned to produce the official film of the XXXth Olympic Games, which was held in  London in the summer of 2012, director Caroline Rowland decided not to make a film showing the highlights and some of the main events of the Games – because people will have seen these on their television sets. Instead she has taken a completely new angle, showcasing twelve first-time Olympians from around the world.

You can read more about Caroline and how she set about this task in the Close-Up Film interview.  Of course, when she started to look closely at her chosen athletes, she had no idea how they were going to fare.  For those of us who can’t remember all the heats and runners up in the variety of sports highlighted here, it is exciting just to watch as the stories unfold and see whether the dream of each young person is realised. There are others that we will remember immediately: Laura Trott, who won Gold for Great Britain in the Omnium of the Women’s Track Cycling, undertaking the many events leading up to her medal; Missy Franklin of the USA, who at only 17 won four gold medals in swimming events. And we will surely never forget David Rudisha  from Kenya who, against great competition, managed to win the Gold medal in the 800m Athletics. And – almost our own – Katie Taylor of Ireland who managed to achieve her dream of bringing women’s boxing into the Olympic Games and then actually winning the Gold medal in the very exciting final of the Women’s Lightweight (60kg) Boxing.

We might not, however, recall so vividly those who just missed out on a Gold medal, including Qui Bo who was beaten in the Men’s 10m Platform Diving and was disappointed with his Silver medal.  There are the others amongst the first timers who didn’t get that far.  After training for four years, Majlinda Kelmendi, who competed in Women’s Judo as part of the Albanian Olympic team as her own country, Kosvar, is not recognised as being a ‘country’ by the Olympic movement or, indeed, the UN. She was eliminated in an earlier round. In a field dominated by Usain Bolt and his fellow countrymen, GB’s James Ellington strives as hard as he can in his first Olympics and is proud to have taken part and achieved some success in the 200m Athletics even without winning any medal.

All the twelve first time Olympians talk about their dreams before the Games and have a brief reflection following their events. There is no other narrator and the stories they tell are in their own words. The excitement of each race is brought out vividly as is the personality of each participant.  In each case we begin in their home country before they leave forLondon. There are some interesting interviews with the families of the Olympians, with particularly telling pieces from the parents of Caroline Buchanan, Australian BMX competitor, and the father of Chad le Clos who foresaw his son pushing the mighty Michael Phelps aside (not literally) to win a Gold medal in the Men’s 100m Butterfly Swim.

The director has used contemporary music as a background. There is an original score by Sacha Puttnam, son of David.

The DVD comes out on 26 November so you have a chance to view it in the cinema and then own a copy for yourself to remind you of a glorious summer of sport.:

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