1980 Moscow. Teofilo Stevenson with coach Andrei Chervorenko.

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The official film of the 1980 Summer Olympics, O Sport, You Are Peace!, is directed by Yuri Ozerov, who contributed a short segment to 1972’s Visions of Eight. The film features excellent cinematography and editing, but the narration frequently descends into silliness. The Soviet hosts were the first to stage spectacular Opening and Closing Ceremonies. The Opening Ceremony, in particular, is shown in great detail. This includes parachutists forming the Olympic rings, actors in the costumes of ancient Greece and a wide variety of dance and music. Special attention is also given in the film to the cultural program, with specific coverage of folk dancing from Georgia and Ukraine. Among the members of Abkhazia’s Ensemble of Centenarians is Timur Vanacha, who is alleged to be 114 years old. Medical researchers at the time found him to be quite a bit younger.

This loose adherence to the facts is on greater display in the film’s description of the ancient Olympics, which is presented in various animated sequences. For example, O Sport, You Are Peace! tells us that the Greek statesman Demosthenes was an Olympic champion, confusing him with a different Demosthenes who lived after his famous namesake. Likewise, the boxer Pythagoras is confused with the philosopher of the same name who was born later. And, for reasons unknown, the film claims that the famous wrestler of ancient times, Milo of Croton, was also a scholar who wrote scientific papers.

To its credit, the film deals with the U.S.-led boycott that prevented many leading athletes from coming to Moscow. There are even interviews with Olympics fans from boycotting nations who decry the decisions of their governments, and two young men are shown (twice) waving an American flag.

Coverage of the competitions emphasizes Soviet achievements, including swimmer Vladimir Salnikov breaking the 15-minute barrier in the 1,500 meters; the Beloglazov twins, Anatoly and Sergey, who both won gold medals in freestyle wrestling; and gymnasts Aleksandr Dityatin and Yelena Davydova.

Foreign athletes are highlighted when there is a Soviet connection or when they have a special story. Cuban boxer Teófilo Stevenson wins his third consecutive gold medal and immediately thanks his Soviet coach, Andrei Chervorenko. Elisabeth Theurer of Austria wins the equestrian dressage competition. We are told that when the Austrian Equestrian Federation refused to send her to Moscow, Austrian Formula One racer Niki Lauda donated his private airplane to fly Theurer and her horse to Moscow.

There is an intriguing few seconds during which Miruts Yifter, having won the 5,000 meters to go with his victory in the 10,000, tries to shake hands with Ethiopian teammate Yohannes Mohammed, who had helped pace Yifter, but a distraught Mohammed refuses.

One memorable sequence shows a montage of weightlifters failing to lift the bar, followed by a montage of lifters straining to bring the bar above their heads and, finally, a montage of overjoyed weightlifters completing successful lifts.

Probably the most annoying aspect of the film is its coverage of the marathon, which focuses on Richard Hooper of Ireland, following him closely and imagining, in a ridiculous manner, what he might be thinking. At one point, Hooper stares at the camera with a dirty look as if he wishes the film crew would go away.

The Moscow Olympics made much use of its official mascot, Misha the Bear. Misha is introduced at the Opening Ceremony. During the film we are shown disturbing footage of trained bears performing on gymnastics apparatuses. This segues into coverage of human gymnasts. At the Closing Ceremony, an enormous Misha is brought into the stadium. Card stunts show Misha with a tear running down his cheek. The film closes with the large Misha, attached to balloons, being freed to float away into the night.