I always had a strange feeling about biographical movies. On the one hand, it’s a great opportunity to take a glimpse into famous personas lifes visually. But on the other hand, you get the feeling that whoever makes that film, tries to make this person look much better than he really was. It’s like an effort to make a perfection of a person, canonize him / her or something like that. So you have to be really informed about those people, because otherwise you’ ll get drowned in this created vision, myth of them.
Especially these feelings appear when you watch a movie about some war, national or sports heroes, because the example of these people is used to encourage national identity, pride, self – feeling. Not an exception was a movie „Legend No 17“ about Soviet hockey player Valeri Kharlamov. First of all, I didn’t know anything about him before I saw a movie. Second of all, I’m not into hockey so I can’t judge about his professional career, but from what I’ve read the guy was a really good hockey player, stubborn and passionate about his job (and tragically died in a car accident at the age of 33). But there are certain aspect of this film, that I’d like to share.
- Can’t say about sports industry in general, but in Soviet sports there was lots of ambitious and intrigues in all levels. Starting with the team and ending with bureucratic apparatus, the Ministry of Sports (especially, the Ministry of Sports) that could make someones career grow, or end for always ruining someone’s life just because he was not obedient with certain bureucratic things.
- CSKA Moscow hockey team was one of the biggest dreams of a hockey player. Another dream was to fight Canadian national team. When people say that sports and politics go separate ways, it’s not true. They go the same way, maybe the visibility of that is not always clear. But in Soviet times it was crystal clear, because to fight with western sportsmen and win over them was a weapon to show that West ain’t that good, whereas USSR is the power, strenght, something that’ll lead forward. Today we also see that politics plays a huge role in sports. It’s not a secret. Every championship, every Olympic game proofs that.
- What I liked is that the movie gives you motivation to reach your dreams. Fight for them. Fight against all odds, all bad lucks, traumas, diseases, sceptics – everything. If there’s something you want to reach, you have to go for it, try for it, work till you drop for it. Because nothing comes just like that (well, sometimes it does, but only for a few lucky ones).
- I also loved the portrayal of the coach Anatoli Tarasov (again didn’t know about him either untill I saw a movie). Extremelly difficult man, strong, sometimes maybe cruel, sometimes maybe unfair, but he was disciplined, tough, unbreakble – „Guard your gates like Motherland”, he said in the movie. A man with principles, able to go against the system if he thought it was the right thing to do. A man that could couch only the best hockey players, but if you’re too weak to handle his methods – bad for you. However, sometimes this human difficulty brings the best results, the problem is that this might be evaluated too late. However, maybe these are the qualities that couch, real and good coach should have?
- Reaching your goals in sports means you’ll be facing physical and psychological traumas. Both of them are very dangerous for sportsmens and I lack points made on this topic, because it seems they win so easily. Actually, all those victories are won through blood. Each fight is like fight till death: it’s either them, or us. Sometimes you have to sacrifice your own health. Is it worth it? Good question, but I don’t know the answer. I mean, I would say no, but sportsmen would probably disagree.
Oh, and one more thing: in case of a victory – team wins, in case of loosing – a coach looses and fails. Unfair, truly unfair. But it’s sports, it’s hockey and as it was said in the movie – „Be joyful, you’re in hockey“.
(Sorry, couldn’t find an English trailer, or at least with English subtitles).