Thats sports history, baby!
That's sports history, baby! Screenshot of The Olympics in Mexico

In acknowledgement of the 2020 Olympics, which would have kicked off in Tokyo last week, the Criterion Collection is streaming its monumental collection 100 Years of Olympic Films on their streaming platform, the Criterion Channel. The collection includes 53 films and covers 41 editions of the Olympic Games, from Stockholm in 1912 to London in 2012. Every weekday for two weeks, I'll highlight a different moment and film from the last century of Olympic films.

The 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City is one of the most famous events in the history of the Olympics. Not only was this Game the first Olympics in Latin America and the first Olympics in a Spanish-speaking country, but it also featured sexy graphic design. And, more notably, the 1968 Mexican Student Movement that led up to the Opening Ceremony, along with the state-ordered unthinkable Tlatelolco massacre. (Read up on that massacre if you're unfamiliar.) And, of course, the famous Tommie Smith and John Carlos Black Power salute. But one moment that I'd never learned about until watching former Olympic swimmer-cum-director Alberto Isaac's The Olympics in Mexico was Bob Beamon's record-shattering 29-feet-and-2.39-inch long jump.

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It's one big ass jump. Here's a clip of it; the footage from The Olympics in Mexico with narration from NBC Sports:

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I love watching an athlete's victory moment. Here, when Bob Beamon wins, he hops around for a moment, then drops to the ground, covers his face, and curls into a ball. It's not clear if he's bawling or freaking out. Just out of his mind, probably—a champion, cradling a private moment in front of a world of spectators. Its inherently interesting to watch a moment like this; watching a champion whose body is at the point of exhaustion, flooded with adrenaline, fueled by a stadium of cheers. Accidentally, these moments manage to be great lessons in acting.

This jump doesnt end well.
This jump doesn't end well. Screenshot of The Olympics in Mexico

Conversely, The Olympics in Mexico also features the scariest jumps I've ever seen—this time with horses. I've always found equestrian events to be a little boring and stuffy, but the footage in The Olympics in Mexico is remarkably brutal. The obstacle course this year was notoriously difficult, with only 30 of the 49 riders completing it. Heavy rainfall made streams, which the horses had to jump over, wider than expected. Isaac's documentary captures an alarming amount of horse tumbles. While all of the horses filmed recover, it's a tense experience watching these regal horses just fucking biff it. I found myself thinking of Beamon's long jumps as these ancient beasts kept tumbling.

The Olympics in Mexico is currently streaming on the Criterion Channel. The doc was nominated for an Academy Award. Watch and you'll understand why: