First Hit: Very strong film about the Soviet’s system for developing their famed “Red Army” national hockey team.
Elegance and dance like are words to describe the way the Soviet national hockey team played hockey. Watching them skate in a hockey game was beautiful. Their weaving pattern was amazing.
This was very different than the smash brutish game as played in the USA and Canada. This film focuses on Slava Fetisov a defensemen for this team. He discusses how they were coached and developed to be the world’s premier hockey team.
The filmmaker mixes political discussion, old stills, old film and current interviews with the famed team members. The mirroring of their teams progression and the changing of the political climate when the country changed from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic – USSR to Russia under Gorbachev.
The regimentation of their practicing and isolation created a level of brainwashing which rears its head as Fetisov speaks. The unfortunate circumstances by which they kept him in Russia was typical. He eventually (along with his teammates) comes to the west, make some money and then after his hockey career is over, becomes the Minister of Sports under Putin.
Fetisov was interesting to watch as he suppressed emotions and feelings when certain subjects were broached. Seeing him watch footage of the USA college team beat his team (Miracle on Ice) at the Olympics in their heyday was difficult. Gabe Polsky wrote and directed this amazing documentary.
Overall: This film directly reflected the times and the USSR during the 60s – 80s.