Olympics on Film
Film loves spectacle, and one sporting contest delivers more than any other. Here, we carry the torch for over a century of Olympian endeavour.
Barely a year separates the birth of film and the first modern Olympics. The two have grown together, their innovations and rituals inseparably bound. Our collection includes footage from many of the most memorable Games of the last century, and explores Olympian endeavour beyond the Games - the training and preparation, the unflagging dedication to excellence in competition after competition, the triumphant homecomings. In our LOLympics collection, we salute the champions of cheese rolling, pea pushing and uphill beer barrel racing, all (so far) sadly denied official Olympic status. Throughout, the Olympic spirit shines through, nowhere more so than in the films showing the successful fight for recognition of athletes with disabilities, culminating in the rise and rise of the Paralympic Games. Hold that torch high!
Documentary198325 mins Location: Cleckheaton
With the Paralympics even more marginalised than today, these athletes show great determination, dedication, camaraderie and humility.
News19645 mins Location: Roker
A television crew documents a day in the life of a Sunderland gymnastics champion and Tokyo Olympics competitor.
Competitors, officials, advocates and spectators take part in the second awe-inspiring Paralympic Games, held in Tokyo.
News19805 mins Location: Much Wenlock
Much Wenlock has a special place in the history of the modern Olympic games - and perhaps it could help to resolve a potential crisis in Moscow.
Amateur film19844 mins Location: Pinner
Amateur newsreel covering the Harrow Marathon and a packed Shrove Tuesday event on Pinner High Street attended by Ronny Barker.
Amateur film19485 mins Location: Henley-on-Thames
From the Austerity Games of 1948 comes G H Wooton's short film showing Olympic rowing events held at Henley-on-Thames
Amateur film196023 mins Location: Stoke Mandeville Hospl
Stoke Mandeville Hospital, birthplace of the Paralympic Games, hosts its 1960 sports jamboree - with basketball, archery and weight lifting
Amateur film19489 mins Location: London
The first post-war Olympic Games feature in John Bell's film from 1948 - with both the opening and closing ceremonies and an equestrian event
Non-Fiction19281 mins Location: Herne Hill
With neither gears nor lycra to help them, the cream of Britain's cyclists battle it out at the Herne Hill velodrome ahead of the 1928 Olympics.
Non-Fiction194714 mins Location: Sheffield
Rare film of an exciting sprint and cycle racing event just after the war, capturing most of the large expectant crowd and many competitors.
Documentary196825 mins Location: Norton
“It isn’t the will to win, it’s that you don’t like to get beaten,” states the redoubtable Harvey Smith, revealed as smart, tough and easy going.
Amateur film19386 mins Location: York
Participants come in all shapes and sizes to pound the streets of York and beguile the crowds with an eclectic range of pedestrianistic styles.
Non-Fiction19081 mins Location: Crystal Palace
Ready, steady, relay! This newsreel captures the pepped-up mood at the 1908 South London Schools Sports event.
Amateur film195814 mins Location: Cardiff/Caerdydd
The sporting event for which the Wales Empire Pool was built in Cardiff, reflecting the city’s promotion, in 1955, to capital of Wales.
Amateur film193311 mins Location: Swansea/Abertawe
The Vetch Field stadium in Swansea is occupied by Urdd Gobaith Cymru – The Welsh League of Hope – for 2 days of mass gymnastics in June 1933.