“Red Army” is directed, produced, and written by Gabe Polsky. The film premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film festival where it received critical acclaim from critics and fans alike. It was one of the highest ranked films of 2014 where it received a 97% rating from Rotten Tomatoes.
The documentary is told from the perspective of Slava Fetisov, former captain of the Soviet Union national team. During his time playing for the Soviets, Fetisov won a total of 7 World Championship Gold Medals, 2 Olympic Gold Medals, 1 Olympic Silver Medal, and 1 World Championship Silver Medal. He was also a 2-time NHL All-Star and was inducted into the Hockey of Fame. He is often regarded as one of the best Russian defenseman in hockey history.
The documentary exploits the rise and fall of the Soviet team, the challenges they went through, the pressure to bring success and dominance to their homeland, and how politics affected their overall lifestyles. Gabe Polsky did an incredible job of showing viewers what the Soviet lifestyle was like for the players.
The documentary details how the Soviets dominated the hockey world during the last half of the 20th century and how the national team represented the peak of what the Soviet Union had achieved.
The documentary does a good job detailing how the Soviet government used the team as a means of political propaganda, to showcase to the world that the Soviet system was superior over the western world.
The documentary also sheds light on how the Soviet military originally established the Red Army School to develop hockey players for the national team. The program allowed the military to hold tryouts for the Russian youth to develop and train them to become skilled and disciplined at the sport that they love.
The film’s main story-teller, Slava Fetisov, is quite a character, and worthy of his own documentary, if not a prime-time TV show. The film does a great job of illustrating the birth and development of hockey in Russia, making mention of key individuals responsible for the USSR’s rise to world dominance in the 20th century. “Red Army” is a must-see for any hockey fan, whether casual or hard-core.
By Andrei Poleshchuk