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|Laufzeit:||Ca. 85 min.|
|FSK:||From 0 years|
The national ice hockey team of the Soviet Union was once considered unbeatable. Even greats like the teams from Canada and the USA were mercilessly inferior to the players of the ZSKA, the ice hockey club of the Red Army. This was the result of an extremely hard training that knew only one goal: to humiliate the West and demonstrate the superiority of the socialist system. One of the best players of the national team was captain Slawa Fetissow, whose strength did not remain hidden from the responsible persons of the American NHL. In the course of perestroika, Fetisov was one of the first Soviet ice hockey players to be lured to the USA with the prospect of freedom and prosperity. But this success also had enormous downsides. In his homeland Fetissow was regarded as a traitor and political enemy and in the USA he was only met with rejection and real hatred. The fact that his style didn't want to integrate into the American style didn't make the situation any easier. Nevertheless, more and more players from the Soviet Union are coming to the USA - and suddenly the tide seems to turn and the mood seems to change…
With "Red Army - Legends on the Ice" the American director Gabe Polsky, son of Russian immigrants, has staged a very multi-layered documentary. At first glance, you might think it was a pure sports documentary, in which the history of the Soviet ice hockey team should be traced. But Polsky, for whom the film was also an opportunity to explore his own origins, uses this framework very well to draw a much broader picture of the political and social history of the Soviet Union. At the same time, the documentary co-produced by Werner Herzog also functions as a testimony to prejudice and xenophobia in the USA.
The film is also an excellent example of the eternal struggle between capitalism and communism. And it is the stirring biography of a man who, from a radiant hero to a banned traitor to his country, only to be welcomed back with open arms as sports minister. This man is Slawa Fetisov, who grants insight into his not always easy life in very open interviews. What's especially interesting is how its effect on the viewer changes in the course of the movie. At the beginning his behaviour seems extremely unpleasant and arrogant. But the more one learns about him, his sometimes very courageous career decisions and their consequences, the more the rejection turns into respect. And even if Fetisov may not be the most popular person in the end, he is still a person you have to take your hat off to in many respects.
Even if the film goes to court with the instrumentalization of sport as a means of propaganda, the sometimes extreme training methods and the ideology behind it, the film should by no means be understood as anti-Russia propaganda. Polsky's criticism of various archive recordings and interviews is too balanced for that. This is particularly evident in the behaviour of American fans and journalists towards the admission of players from the Soviet Union to the NHL. In their new homeland they are confronted with antiquated prejudices, humiliating insults and perceptible hatred. But the moment they win, hatred turns from one moment to the next into admiration, enthusiasm and love. This hypocrisy, which can hardly be surpassed in its superficiality and which is revealed in such behaviour, cannot be regarded as a declaration of love to the USA. It's important that Poslky criticizes this side as well, so that his film appears balanced and credible.
"Red Army - Legends on the Ice" is an extremely interesting and thrilling film, whose story can also be transferred very well into the present. It is an entertaining and revealing work that provides the viewer with a wealth of information on contemporary history during its short running time and also reveals some fascinating insights into the world of international ice hockey. But there is a very clear one: Absolutely worth seeing!
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