2004 Athens Olympic Highlights (2004)
|Year Of Production||2004|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||None Given|
Hicham El Guerrouj
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The 2004 Athens Games were a great success when they returned to the birthplace of the modern Olympics in August. This was somewhat surprising given the delays and controversy that dogged the organisers and the venues in the seven years leading up to the opening ceremony. But the Greeks pulled it off and, it must be said, in the end did it with some real class. There were of course many highlights during the 16 days of competition including both Australian and international athletes (though you wouldn't know it given the coverage from the Seven Network here in Australia where jingoism is most certainly printed in their corporate mission statement). Australia enjoyed its most successful games ever in terms of gold medals, but I thought not so much the focus on our athletes, but the disregard for the other countries competing was the biggest negative of the Australian coverage.
It is only natural that some of these highlights would make their way to DVD, just as they did after the Sydney 2000 games and so what we have here is a rapid-fire compilation of highlights from the Games. Unfortunately, cramming anything that took 16 days into just 62 minutes of highlights is going to mean a lot of things get either left out or short changed and that is precisely what has happened here.
Don't expect your favourite sport to be given anything more than a minute or so of coverage in this rapid review of the 16 days of sporting action. Obviously the swimming and the athletics feature a significantly larger number of events than most sports and so do receive a reasonable amount of coverage, but even then five or six minutes worth of footage means fleeting glimpses of most events. All of the 28 sports do get at least some screen time dedicated to them (though not all of the 37 disciplines - for example equestrian features showjumping but no dressage or eventing), so if you want to see the gold medal performance from the Russian synchronised swimmers, or the Italian fencer who nearly freaked out when he won gold, those moments are included. Some of the other more memorable moments include a couple of Michael Phelps' swimming golds, Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj winning the 1500m and the 5000m, and the great battle that was the women's pole vault final when the Russians finished first and second and set a new world record.
Some of the more memorable gold medal moments don't get any mention at all and I thought it amazing that the women's basketball final and the men's triathlon didn't get a single second of images (the latter will disappoint the Kiwis because their athletes finished first and second). It is also more of an internationalised look at the Games, with no focus on one particular country (though I suspect the makers have a soft spot for Great Britain based on the content and the accent of the narrator). For Australian and New Zealand viewers this could prove a problem since the grand total of Australian gold medal performances shown is six from 17 gold (Ryan Bailey twice, Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, Jody Henry, and the men's hockey team), while poor old New Zealand does not get a mention once.
One of the more interesting aspects of the highlights is the lack of any commentary. All we get is a voice-over narration that has been applied afterwards. Any of the excited commentator's call from the actual event on the actual day is absent (presumably because this is an internationally flavoured disc and so doesn't favour any one nation). I thought this removed some of the parochialism but it also subdued the experience and excitement just a little too much.
One of the more surprising things about the television broadcast of the 2004 Olympics was the fact it was shown in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. This was thought a little odd considering so much sport in this modern digital era is broadcast in the widescreen aspect of 1.78:1. Obviously the Seven network here in Australia had no choice but to accept the feed from the host Greek broadcasters whose decision it ultimately was to go with the 1.33:1 aspect. Once can only speculate on the reasons for it, but one guess would be the need to satisfy the requirements of viewers in more than 200 countries, with a large percentage of them having no widescreen or digital television access. As a result the old style format would have more than kept the masses happy and is the aspect we have been forced to accept. Maybe by the time Beijing rolls around in 2008 we might see a shift to proper widescreen for the major sporting event in the world, but then again don't be surprised if we don't.
As a result this video transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is excellent, with clean crisp and clear images and no blemishes of any sort. There are no dark scenes to trouble the shadow detail and grain is absent.
The colours are well rendered and bright, with no bleeding evident. Skin tones are spot on.
There are no compression artefacts present. Other artefacts are also thankfully absent.
There are no subtitle tracks present.
A one hour feature fits happily on a single layered disc and as such that is what this is. There is no layer change.
As expected a fairly basic audio selection graces this disc. We get an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack as the only option.
Dialogue is pretty much all this is about, as almost all the audio consists of a voiceover narration with a little music. Effects from the athletes and the crowds watching come through clearly, but as mentioned in the plot synopsis there is no television commentary of any sort from any broadcaster. There are also no audio sync issues.
There is no surround or subwoofer use at all.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras on this disc.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This exact disc has not been released in Region 1. There is a Region 2 version titled The Athens Olympic Review and from the information I can find it appears almost identical to this one, with brief running time and no television commentary.
Athens 2004 Olympic Highlights is just that - highlights and an extremely brief series at that. It runs for a little over 60 minutes with some sports given no more than 20 seconds of coverage.
The video and audio are acceptable even though the lack of 16x9 widescreen image makes it look a little old-fashioned.
There are no extras.
|DVD||Loewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Speakers||Front - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10|