Image and reality

Image and reality

We’re running three stories about the Vancouver Olympics this week, so I was interested to read in Thursday’s New York Times that the organizers of the games had withdrawn a video that was being shown to relay participants and had posted on their Website. (It’s actually around for several months, without much comment, until a Toronto newspaper wrote about it on Wednesday.)

Why was it shown? It included footage from Leni Riefenstahl’s infamous film “Olympia,” about the 1936 Olympics in Berlin – you know: that one, the one that glorifies the Nazis. A strange, unnecessary choice, but stranger still is the fact that the footage had been altered. As the Times reports, it had been “edited to avoid, among other things, the runners passing between two Nazi flags on the Brandenburg gates. A shot of the torch bearer entering the Olympic stadium in Berlin was digitally altered to remove a number of silhouetted arms in Nazi salutes.”

Altering the footage did not render the film kosher but muddied the historical record.