The inspiring story of the team that transcended its sport and united a nation with a new feeling of hope. Based on the true story of one of the greatest moments in sports history, the tale captures a time and place where differences could be settled by games and a cold war could be put on ice. In 1980, the United States Ice Hockey team's coach, Herb Brooks, took a ragtag squad of college kids up against the legendary juggernaut from the Soviet Union at the Olympic Games. Despite the long odds, Team USA carried the pride of a nation yearning from a distraction from world events. With the world watching the team rose to the occasion, prompting broadcaster Al Michaels' now famous question, to the millions viewing at home: Do you believe in miracles? Yes!Written by
Sujit R. Varma
There are two "bookend" moments in the film. The first is where the audience sees Robbie McClanahan taping his hockey stick in the locker room before the try-outs, and then sees him doing the same thing in the locker room immediately before the Soviet Olympic game. It ties the early, rag-tag hopefuls together with the conditioned, tightly-bonded Olympic team. The second is when Mark Johnson looks nervous and looks away first, in the face-off against the Soviet Captain, in the warm-up game, in Madison Square Garden, but, in the face-off at the beginning of the Olympic game, Mark out-stares the Soviet Captain, and forces him to look away first. It shows the confidence and determination of the U.S. team on that fateful evening, compared with their insecurity just thirteen days previously against the Soviet Union in New York City. See more »
Just before the start of the game against the Soviets in Madison Square Garden, goalie Jim Craig is shown lowering his mask onto his face twice after the team huddle in front of the American net. See more »
Russell Shines in Story of '80 Olympic Hockey Triumph...
MIRACLE, the Disney retelling of the U.S. Hockey squad's astonishing Gold Medal performance at Lake Placid in 1980, is not a great film (a TV-movie from 1981, "Miracle on Ice", despite the bizarre casting of 69-year old Karl Malden as 43-year old coach Herb Brooks, is superior, although relying heavily on TV footage for game sequences), but it does offer Kurt Russell in one of the finest performances of his long career.
The 53-year old Russell, a life-long veteran of both TV and film (making his debut on a "Sugarfoot" TV episode, at age 6), has developed a reputation over the past two decades as a very competent, if not overpowering leading man, primarily in action films (ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, TOMBSTONE, BREAKDOWN) and comedies (USED CARS, CAPTAIN RON, OVERBOARD). What is often forgotten, however, is that he has remarkable 'range' as an actor, with brilliant performances in the TV-movie "Elvis" (1979), the underrated SWING SHIFT (1984, where he met his long-time love, Goldie Hawn), and 2003's DARK BLUE (as a crooked cop searching for redemption during the bloody aftermath of the Rodney King riots in L.A.). As age has carved his features, Russell has lost the "beach boy" glamor that had often 'stereotyped' him in the past, and gives his 'Herb Brooks' a sense of credibility and pain that lifts his performance to Academy Award caliber.
Herb Brooks was a remarkable person, long before Lake Placid. Despite success in coaching a string of national champion college hockey teams, he had never recovered from being the last player 'cut' from the 1960 Gold Medal U.S. hockey squad, and from being a member of the '64 and '68 teams that were humiliated by the Soviets. Driven by a desire to beat the nearly invincible Russian squad, he realized that a group of college 'all-stars' would never possess the 'team' skills to get the job done. Ruthlessly, refusing the assistance of the U.S. Olympic Hockey Committee, he pieced together a squad of talented skaters, 'broke' them, then remolded them to fit his vision, working them unmercifully for over six months, while spouting Vince Lombardi-like platitudes. Despite his torturous regimen, just days before the Olympics, his team would be humiliated by the Soviets, 10-3, and no one gave his squad a chance for a medal.
But Brooks had faith, and a squad that was 'hungry'...
While the film suffers from a lack of depth in the portrayal of the players (by the way, they do all their own skating; TV footage is not used), MIRACLE's 'feel' of the decade is well-done, using montages and voice-overs to convey the American sense of helplessness in a decade of tragedies. The unexpected U.S. victory galvanized the nation (Al Michaels' stunned reaction, "Do you believe in Miracles?", has become a catch phrase for both the game, and the times), and actually contributed to turning the country around.
While the Academy Awards will probably ignore Kurt Russell's commanding performance (as the film was not a 'hit'), MIRACLE is still a film worth viewing, given our own troubled times. While the film may not be 'great', it's message of hope is certainly worthwhile!
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