Eye For Film >> Movies >> My Olympic Summer (2007) Film Review
My Olympic Summer
Reviewed by: Anton Bitel
In this 12-minute short, whose visual materials are composed entirely of 8mm home movies and news file footage taken from 1972, Daniel Robin demonstrates how bare images can conceal all manner of secrets about the past and lessons for the future.
In family photos, as in families themselves, problems can often lie buried beneath the smiling surface. Robin's discovery of an unopened letter from his mother to his father, and of a single holiday reel shot by his mother (with the help of an unknown stranger), leads the filmmaker to reevaluate the relationship of his parents in the summer leading up to his own birth – at a time when his father, a US army chaplain, was serving as the official liaison to the ill-fated Israeli team at the Munich Olympics.
It is tempting to compare My Olympic Summer, with its parade of archival footage and its disarmingly personal perspective on history, with Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation (2003), but fortunately, despite the first-person reference in the title, Robin bypasses Caouette's grating brand of narcissism by (doubly) effacing himself: for he is present in the footage only as a bump in his mother's belly, and his narration is both co-written and delivered by someone else entirely (MR Dhar).
Robin may seek clues to his own recent divorce in the near breakdown of his parents' marriage so many years ago – but he is also philosophical enough to acknowledge the vanity of taking comfort from a picture of the past that is ultimately "false and incomplete" (if, he implies, no less "false and incomplete" than his own film).
And so, Robin's short about his family, himself, and a tempestuous summer, turns out to be also concerned with the limitations of film itself as a documentary form – making My Olympic Summer a narrow yet ambitious angle on an event that both shook the world and (possibly) saved a marriage. Recommended.Reviewed on: 22 Jan 2008
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