The second Nagano film, Olympic Glory, is a 42-minute work using the 70-millimeter IMAX format. It is directed by Kieth Merrill, who had won an Academy Award 24 years earlier for his documentary The Great American Cowboy about professional rodeo riders. He also gained an Academy Award nomination in 1998, the year of the Nagano Games, for Amazon, a documentary short, which was shot in IMAX. Olympic Glory is narrated by the well-known actor Stacy Keach, based on a script by Thomas Keneally, author of the novel Schindler’s Ark, upon which the film Schindler’s List was based.
The cinematography is spectacular, even on a non-IMAX screen, and Merrill makes good use of split and multiple screens. Like many Winter Olympics films, there is a figure skating montage and lots of falls and crashes, but they do look more impressive in large-format.
The flap-skate is explained. Snowboarding is described as “playful irreverence.” The closing moments of the victory of the United States over Canada in the women’s ice hockey final is accompanied by the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The stories of Bjørn Dæhlie and Masahiko Harada, covered in Nagano ’98 Olympics: Bud Greenspan’s Stories of Honor and Glory, are repeated, but we also get to meet Philip Boit, Kenya’s first entry in the Winter Olympics. He finishes in last place in the 10-kilometer cross-country race, but is met at the finish line by Dæhlie, who embraces him. Not mentioned in the film is that Boit’s training in Finland and his participation in the Olympics were sponsored by Nike.