Visual Framing in Ichikawa’s 1964 Tokyo Olympiad


Depicting a mega-event such as an Olympic Games is generally centered around heroic victories played out in spectacular stadiums. Such films usually combine elements of Nichols' (2010) poetic and expository modes. But beyond the use of Nichols' taxonomy, the issue of framing is also paramount in deconstructing an Olympic documentary. At the heart of the deconstruction process is selection and salience (Entman, 1993). Filmmakers face dilemmas: for example, choosing between depicting events within a national frame or an international frame. There are also stakeholder issues such as national and international politics, nation branding, commercial sponsorship, and issues of discrimination which jostle to be highlighted. This study primarily compares two classic Olympic documentaries, Olympia by Leni Riefenstahl (1936) and Tokyo Olympiad (1964) by Kon Ichikawa to explore how these directors filmed events by using generic frames such as competition and persistence and issue specific framing of ritual. Roles of both production and direction are discussed. In both cases the filmmakers were chosen by local Olympic committees. At a directorial level both films employed cutting edge filmmaking techniques of the time, resulting in spotlighting competitive identities of the respective countries. This highlights such controversies as states commissioning filmmakers who are sympathetic to their agendas, and the funding of productions which promote national agendas over those of various competing nationalities and minorities. Such analysis has relevance to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics: how might the Japanese Olympic Committee influence a documentary film on the 2020 Olympics being framed, scripted and directed?

Author Information
Barry Natusch, Nihon University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: IICJ2016
Stream: Japanese Culture and Media

This paper is part of the IICJ2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon