An early movie poster for Kon Ichikawa’s documentary on the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo read, “The man’s picture every woman will love!” That’s archaically sexist, but it does convey the wide-ranging appeal of Tokyo Olympiad, which is less of a sports movie than an art film. Whereas other documentary filmmakers hone in on victors and political conflict at the Olympics, Ichikawa wades into the crowds and onto the streets in an effort to capture the Game’s atmosphere. He treats non-medalists with the same curiosity with which he treats the winners. Slow-motion close-ups of a marathon runner’s face or the amplified sound of a gymnast’s hands sliding across a bar depict as much exertion and strength as wide-angle shots of sprinters racing down the track. Despite the film’s beauty, Japan’s Olympic officials were reportedly furious with Ichikawa for neglecting Olympic glory in the name of art. Ichikawa released a drastically edited version as a consequence.
Top 10 Summer Olympics Films
From biopics of athletes to on-the-track romances, TIME looks back on some of our favorite Olympic-themed movies