"Hill was quite articulate about it, and certainly horrifyingly frank. "It's affected me,' he told me, 'in that the tragedy has put off my race for a day. If I allowed myself to think about what had happened, I would have become emotionally involved and thus not able to run."
"Well, that's what I made my film about—that statement. I found illustrations for it—a battered bunch of flowers, and a wreath, the empty block in the Olympic Village, the photographers photographing the photographers—everything so alien to the man running up that long hill on Sunday in Lancashire."
An interesting speculation about Visions of Eight would question whether each segment bears the unique signature of its maker—does one say "Ah-ha, Schlesinger, without question"? Mai Zetterling had warned that one of the disadvantages of the concept of Visions of Eight would be exactly that problem, that the film directors might try to outdo each other by using tricky techniques. "Competition must be kept to a minimum if the idea is to work out," she argued. "The vision must be authentic, not a recherch� attempt to best fellow directors."
It would seem that Zetterling's presentiment was heeded. With perhaps the exception of Penn's out-of-focus gimmickry and Forman's speeded-up tomfoolery with his shots of Olympic officials, one could properly say that some of the segments are only less personal than others. The film is traditional and straightforward, such as Ichikawa's 100-meter dash (though one might feel that its technique shows the Japanese preoccupation with dissection and miniaturization), Ozerov's essay on starts, Lelouch's losers.
Certainly there is one quality that is inherent in all the visions. It is the loneliness of the athletes. They rarely talk, to each other or to the camera. Their voices are inner. Even their rage is silent. They puff their cheeks. Their eyes rarely focus. They are as beautiful and distant as mannequins. One of the few human scenes occurs at the end of Mai Zetterling's segment. Two wrestlers are leaving the exercise room carrying their kit bags. One of them is a super heavyweight, massive, moving away from the camera in a slow, regal waddle; walking beside him is a flyweight lifter, a midget by comparison. The two of them are talking briskly, friends for sure, and perhaps they are going off to have a beer somewhere. One hopes so. Perhaps it is no accident that a number of the Visions of Eight directors decided that if they ever combined again to do a film, it would be on the subject of love.