← Back to Reviews

Beyond All Barriers

Beyond All Barriers, 1989

This documentary shows footage from the 1988 Seoul Olympics, with particularly heavy emphasis on the opening ceremonies.

I really enjoy Olympic documentaries, especially ones like White Rock that lend you a sense of the immediacy and experience of the events.

This documentary, for me, was so-so. The opening ceremony was undeniably beautiful and well-choreographed and colorful. The gestures at addressing the historical tragedies and conflicts were done tastefully and with a spirit of reconciliation.

But 50 minutes is a long time for me to watch this type of footage. It mostly exists in long shots--which highlight the scale and symmetry and coordination of the performances--but there is a degree of detachment that was never quite bridged for me.

Then the film transitions into footage of the games themselves. And while many of the shots were beautiful, there was again a lack of intimacy. Aside from one or two faces, I did not recognize most of the athletes. We are shown snippets of different events, often in slow motion, but not given a lot of context.

I'm on track to watch two more Olympic documentaries about the Seoul Olympics this week, and it will be interesting to see how they approach the topic. I'm particularly excited about one called Hand in Hand.