Red Army Parent Review
Diehard fans of the sport will enjoy this historical look at the changing face of hockey, and even those less interested in the game may appreciate the background behind the Soviet's indomitable team.
The 2004 movie Miracle tells the story of the Olympic race for supremacy on the ice rink at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Games. In the face of rising Cold War tensions, a collection of players, mostly from U.S. universities, went up against the mighty Soviet Red Army, a seasoned group of competitors who had trained together for years. Only days before the Olympic Games began, the Soviets had trounced the Americans 10-3 in an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden. And many feared the Olympic match would be another sound beating for the collegiate squad.
Ultimately the U.S beat Finland for the gold medal that year. But the medal-round game (known as the Miracle on Ice) between the amateur Americans led by Coach Herb Brooks and the unstoppable Soviet National Team is the most remembered match of the Games.
Now documentarian Gabe Polsky tells the other side of story from the Red Army Club’s bench. The star of Red Army is Vyacheslav “Slava” Getisov, the youngest man ever to captain the Soviet team and a force in front of the camera. As a young child, Slava joined hundreds of other boys trying out for the club team where ballet and chess were incorporated, along with endless hours of skating and stickhandling.
Living for most of the year in a training compound, the team members became like family spending after hours and even vacations together. One group of players known as the Russian Five—Slava, Alexei Kasatonov, Sergei Mararov, Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov—became the most formidable hockey line to take to the ice for nearly a decade.
However the cost to the individual on the Soviet team was incredibly steep in a society where sport and propaganda often blurred, and where winning a game on the ice became a validation for a country’s political way of life.
The film also explores the migration of Russian players to the NHL as the Soviet regime began to crumble. It also looks at the Soviet players’ reaction to a rougher, more individualistic style of play on North American ice.
While diehard fans of the sport will likely enjoy this historical look at the changing face of hockey, even those less interested in the game may appreciate the background behind the Soviet’s indomitable team. The script, using a combination of English and Russian interviews (with English subtitles), includes infrequent profanities and a crude hand gesture aimed at the director. Brief war footage is shown as well, along with some discussions of death and intimidation.
Yet despite the grueling training routines of the past and the difficulties of day-to-day life for most Soviets, it is still evident Slava loves the game and his country. Now well past his playing years, he takes on a new role in order to pass on his passion for hockey to a new generation of young Russians.Directed by Gabe Polsky. Starring Scotty Bowman, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Anatoli Karpov. Running time: 76 minutes. Theatrical release January 23, 2015. Updated May 18, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Red Army here.
Red Army Parents Guide
More About The Movie: Learn more about the Red Army’s team captain, Slava Fetisov.
From the Studio: From Oscar nominated and Emmy award-winning filmmakers, RED ARMY is a feature documentary about the Soviet Union and the most successful dynasty in sports history: the Red Army hockey team. Told from the perspective of its captain Slava Fetisov, the story portrays his transformation from national hero to political enemy. From the USSR to Russia, the film examines how sport mirrors social and cultural movements and parallels the rise and fall of the Red Army team with the Soviet Union. RED ARMY is an inspiring story about the Cold War played out on the ice rink, and a man who stood up to a powerful system and paved the way for change for generations of Russians. © Sony Classics
Talk about the movie with your family…
How do sport and social movements reflect one another in this documentary? How did the Soviet government use sport as propaganda for their form of leadership? Why do they compare sport to warfare? How do the Americans treat their Olympic win against the Soviets? What added pressure did the Cold War put on both the teams?
What unusual training methods does Tatiana Tarasova use with his young players? Why is the idea of teamwork emphasized so much more among the Soviet players than the North American teams? What are the advantages and disadvantages of both styles of play?
Why were North American players initially reluctant to have Russian players on their team? What role did Detroit Red Wings Coach Scotty Bowman play in the transition? According to Quanthockey.comru, there are currently 31 active Russian NHL players. How does the migration of players to the NHL impact the level of play in the KHL?