Back to black and white, the 1952 Winter Olympics film, The VI Olympic Winter Games, Oslo 1952, is as straightforward as can be. It covers all the sports and, even though it emphasizes Norwegian athletes, it gives fair coverage to those from other nations.
Beginning with an explanation of the importance and origins of skiing and skating in Norway, the introduction takes barely six minutes. The Torch Relay begins not in Olympia, but at the home of Sondre Norheim, a pioneer of modern competitive skiing and Norway’s first national ski champion (in 1868). The cauldron in the stadium is lit by Eigil Nansen, grandson of 1922 Nobel Peace Prize winner Fridtjof Nansen.
The remainder of the film covers the competitions themselves. Slow-motion sequences are generally reserved to demonstrate the techniques of the gold medal winners. In journalistic fashion, many of the events discuss the favorites and the progress of races. There is extended coverage of events of greatest interest to Norwegians, such as the Nordic combined and various cross-country races, with many shots (as in previous Winter Olympics films) of skiers struggling uphill.
Here and there, there are some commentaries of interest. While we watch Annemarie Buchner race to the bronze medal in the giant slalom, we are told that she is the first German athlete to compete in Norway since the end of World War II.
During coverage of the ice hockey tournament, each match of which was sold out, the narrator speaks disapprovingly of the violent play of the Americans, noting that such displays are fortunately rare in European hockey. Later, when Canada plays the United States, he points out that the two sides are used to “brutal” tactics.
There is a light interlude filmed at the Athletes Village for Alpine skiers in which Spanish skiers put on a show inspired by bullfighting and three white skiers from New Zealand present their version of the Maori haka dance.
The first cross-country skiing race for women is won by Lydia Wideman of Finland. French figure skater Alain Giletti, who was only 12 years old, is given special coverage, as is another figure skater, bronze medal winner Jacqueline du Bief, who is described as “French from her head to her skates.”
But the athlete who is given the most coverage, for good reason, is Norway’s Hjalmar Andersen, who won three gold medals in speed skating in three days. We even follow him as he visits the Norwegian Ski Museum.
The film concludes with the event that Norwegians consider the most important: the ski jump at Holmenkollen, which, by 1952, had already been hosting competitions for 60 years. The Olympic event was attended by 140,000 spectators, who were given satisfaction when the gold and silver medals were won by two Norwegians, Arnfinn Bergmann and Torbjørn Falkanger.