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.Written by
When you die, this is gonna be your legacy.
[Taking phone out]
I know and I appreciate it. You're a good guy. I'm lucky to have you.
I think we're both lucky to have each other.
[Not paying attention, calling on phone]
That's even better. California boy and good guy.
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Sometimes sports can seem like they have a bloated sense of self-importance but it can resonate in the grand scheme of geopolitics. The Cold War was indeed an era of tension and it manifested itself most publicly when the Soviet Union brought its teams to North America. It wasn't just teams representing countries, but they were representing ways of life - America, the capitalist way of life, and the Soviet Union, the communist way of life. And ostensibly, those lifestyles determine who has the better players, at least that's what they wanted the teams to think. When you hear that a country has beaten Canada at hockey, you know that means business. However, the documentary Red Army shows how the Soviet Union team members, who are all world class athletes, become disenchanted with their leadership and are recruited over to American leagues.
As expected, the attitude of the Russians today in the interviews are amusing and intimidating. Director Gabe Polsky feeds off the candid moments he captures, even if that results in the participants condescending him. With very deliberate motions with the camera, he capitalises on moments that other directors would have considered an outtake. There's a sense of humour and a sense of danger constantly bubbling, and Polsky's collection of archive footage always perfectly illustrates the portrait that the anecdotes form. It shows a skill in hockey that I've never seen before and Polsky makes it quite poetic at times. However sometimes its drama is too boisterous, but it's only real crux is that with such a big team it's hard for it to stay focused and follow all its characters at once. While it's most likely drenched in bias coming from an American, but pushing politics aside, it's the individual lives that matter.
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