Thursday, January 24, 2013


                This is a movie about the greatest moment in the history of sports. 

                This is also your classic sports story of one team’s rise from nothing to win it all behind a charismatic coach who never quits.  Right on cue, under his guidance, a team of misfits comes together and does the thing everyone said was impossible.  This is also the Cold War personified on ice.

                So what has changed in our cultural memory that warrants a movie about it 24 years after the fact?

                We all have some knowledge of what went on that day in Lake Placid, New York back in 1980. But if you didn’t watch that game as it happened, you do not understand.  The team in the red no longer exists; the country they hailed from is no more.  And it’s more than just the game you don’t understand; it’s everything beyond it, both in the team room and in the stands.  The Cold War was still being waged and the threat of World War III never completely left the minds of those in both West and East.

                This trailer encourages anyone and everyone with a shard of patriotism to get out and see this movie.  There is no target audience, because you naturally have one of two reasons to see it.  You either were watching that day in 1980 and want to see the story you saw unfold happen again in a different light, or you were born after the fact and want to learn exactly why the United States’ victory over the Soviet Union in Olympic ice hockey was such a big deal.

                If you somehow don’t catch on to either of these themes, two concepts come to the forefront to stir your emotions (pathos).  Color serves two purposes in this trailer.  The first involves appealing to one’s positive emotions in the form of patriotism prompted by omnipresent red, white, and blue.  This doesn’t just refer to the uniforms on the backs of the players, but also in the stands filled with fans proudly waving the stars and stripes.  Also, the bright colors of the uniforms, both American blue and Soviet red, stand in stark contrast to the dull, cool-colored backdrop that seems perfect for hockey.  Giannetti says it best in Understanding Movies when he describes reds, yellows, and oranges as representing aggressiveness, violence, and stimulation while blues and greens emphasize aloofness and serenity. [Giannetti, 22]  The blue and gray hues that seem to encase Lake Placid in a tranquil winter are rudely interrupted by the fiercely intimidating red-clad Soviets and their multi-colored American counterparts.  This tends to lead one to believe that something huge is taking place in the most unlikely of places due to the sudden differential between event and setting.  And if images like these are not enough to evoke a deep desire to stand up and cheer as the puck finds the back of the net, the sounds accompanying the end of the trailer will.  The playing of “Dream On” by Aerosmith followed by deafening chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” establishes the belief that Coach Brooks has established in these players and seems to bring on the idea that you will be looking at history being made, even as this game took place so long ago and the outcome has become legendary.

                There is as stark a contrast between the characters as there is in the color scheme.  In the trailer, Herb Brooks is set apart from his players not just by his past efforts and well-known failure, but also by his character.  Kurt Russell was hand-selected for this role because he has a history of playing these types of strong men.  Part of the role evidently involves bringing our main character’s ethos into question at the start, as his outbursts at his players lead us to question his ability to lead this team.  Andrea A. Lunsford gives us questions to ask ourselves in Everything’s an Argument in regards to authority: Should we pay attention to him?  Do his past experiences make him qualified?  [Lunsford, 50] The trailer indicates we should focus on Brooks, but does he really have the skills to give this team an edge, or will the Americans have to beat the Soviets on talent alone?  About thirty seconds later in the trailer we learn the truth.  Brooks is a no-nonsense head coach with an enormous task ahead of him, yet he is in charge of a group of college kids who seemingly can’t get along or skate effectively.  Hence comes the grueling training regimen shown in the middle of the trailer and we understand just how Brooks intends to coach this team.  None of the actors who play the hockey players need to be put at the forefront.  In fact, the ethos of their characters is called into question right off the bat as well with quotes like, “Why hockey?  The girls!” and “They’re Russians; they get shot if they smile.”  Regardless, this is a total team effort; no one player will beat the Soviets.  And as a whole, this team will rely on things like the ethos of their coach to pull together and pull off the upset.

                This movie is for just about anyone in the market for an uplifting story, but not everyone can appreciate the significance that this team and this date hold in the history of the American people.  Hence, I will only give it two tickets.  Regardless, this movie is a fine effort showcasing an amazing moment in American history.  So, if you love your country, the Olympic Games, ice hockey, or any combination of the three; get out there and be witness to the Miracle.

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