Since 2011, I have seen four films in the theatre. I rarely go out to see movies since I have a very short attention span–that’s why I watch things like sports. So it’s pretty odd that I left my house (gasp!) while a hockey game was on (seriously, I’m okay) to go see a film called “Red Army“, and now I am here writing about it. I don’t even read movie reviews.
I’ve known about this documentary for some time, and have been eagerly awaiting its release because it’s so incredibly rare that I get to see a film that indulges so many of my obsessions–history, hockey, and Russian/Soviet culture. But even if you don’t share my bias, “Red Army” still stands alone as a compelling and insightful story. If you like hockey, you just get a little more out of it.
The film follows five members of the Red Army hockey team, including captain Slava Fetisov, whose cheeky interviews with filmmaker Gabe Polsky are the exceptionally candid and interesting. On the ice these men are highly skilled, nearly mechanical in their play. The stories revealed by the men they spent all their time with—coaches, teammates, staff, as well as their families—tell of their personal and political struggles as athletes and patriots. The Red Army team was doing things no one in North America was doing at the time—all from the mind the incredible coach Anatoly Tarasov, who is shown demonstrating the proper on-ice somersault to his young pupils. Wives of players complained of only seeing her husband one weekend a month. Army-like indeed.
The film was well-shot, beautifully designed, and even used a song called «Трус не играет в хоккей», or “No Coward Plays Hockey”. Creepy children’s choirs were a thing in the Soviet Union, and while some find them creepy, I think they’re awesome. Several years ago I shared a this clip from a Soviet program on Facebook and several friends thought it was me. These shows are Eurovision meets 70s kitsch and Soviet patriotism—and totally ridiculous. I love this weird stuff, so of course I have to share this with you.
Watch «Трус не играет в хоккей» and follow along with the lyrics below, then check out a list of theatres playing the film here (SF and San Jose, it’s playing at Embarcadero and Camera 12, respectively). I’ll let you know when the next hockey movie comes out.
Lyrics courtesy of Wikipedia.