Olympia's North American Debut & Frizzell Talks Horror

Summertime's often been a period where the studios release wartime flickers - dramas, soap operas, actioners, and the rare comedy - and this year's a bit more surprising for the documentaries and little-seen epics that have surfaced. Granted we've been dipping backwards to visit some titles as leads for the recent wave, but a big surprise was the appearance of Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia - the classic documentary of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

The re-militarization of Germany under Hitler was in plain view throughout the doc, particularly the opening ceremonies, and the film's release in 1938 as an example of new film technique developing under the Third Reich kinda makes it tangential to the summer wartime wave.

Although a director-supervised transfer of the film appeared on laserdisc from Criterion, Pathfinder Home Entertainment is the first North American label to commercially release the film on DVD, and the results are very mixed. Our review deliberately checks out the extras, particularly the rare newsreels archived on the 2-disc set, with some comments about the overt wartime propaganda therein.

The review is also the first to use our WKME feature - basically hyperlinked text that loads a fresh page of sidebar comments, footnotes and reviews - which in Olympia's case, offers a review of the rarely seen 1940 film, Wunschkonzert. Released on VHS PAL in Germany, the film is unique - and perhaps largely forgotten - for using footage from Riefenstahl's film as cleverly intercut background footage to launch a wartime romance between two distanced lovers later separated by war.

(Many unique titles are mentioned in our Olympia review, and over the coming weeks we'll add capsule reviews for some that are still unavailable on DVD; while not actual DVD reviews, they'll offer brief WKME overviews, and we'll mention those new additions in this column.)

Olympia, from our end, is also the key culprit in our delayed July update, which includes a pair of reviews: Les Dalton, the grandly blundered live action version of the famous Morris-Goscinny comic book, released by Chrystal in a gorgeous DVD; and Maroon, Andre Gladu's latest installment in his three-part history of the Creole in Louisiana, and their influential music.

This is one title that, as of this writing, hasn't popped up in the IMDB, but is another fine example of the great documentaries made by the NFB (National Film Board of Canada), whose works are slowly (and finally!) making their way onto broadly distributed commercial DVDs. This 2-disc edition from Music Video Distribution also contains Gladu's prior entries, Zarico and Liberty Street Blues, and is worth checking out.

Lastly, we continue with our interviews & profiles, and offer a breezy conversation with film composer John Frizzell. With Lucky McKee's The Woods finally getting theatrical and planned home video play, and Stay Alive arriving on DVD September 19th, Frizzell talked to KQEK.com about the stylistic opportunities the horror genre frequently gives adventurous and skilled composers.

Coming next: vintage Leonard Cohen and The Rolling Stones, The Fall of Berlin in appropriated Agfacolor, and some exploitive trash to balance out the coming week.

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