By: Emily Kellas
Rating: 8 out of 10
With the summer Olympics taking over most American’s TV screens, iPhone’s, and Facebook news feeds, this week I thought I would return to Retro Reviews with an inspiring sports classic. I will freely admit that I am not the world’s foremost expert on sports films. But I do have a few that stand out in my mind as “Emily Classics.” I have seen Remember the Titans more times than I can count, I can’t watch baseball without thinking about A League of Their Own, and every time I mini golf I can’t stop quoting Caddyshack. But the one movie that stands out, as my favorite sports movie is a recent classic, Miracle. I realize that this Disney live action film is not truly “retro” with its 2004 release date, nor is it the cream of the crop when it comes to its competition like Raging Bull and Field of Dreams. But like most of our summer Olympic athletes, this film has what its subjects had, heart.
Based on the 1980 U.S. Hockey teams victory as underdogs in the Winter Olympics, Miracle follows the team from its rocky formation, to grueling practices, to their final defining moment over the invincible Soviet Union in Lake Placid, New York. Coach Herb Brooks takes a new approach to coaching the rag tag team of rivals and egos, transforming them into American heroes.
Visually the film doesn’t offer anything new. But it is the story and the way it’s told that makes Miracle stand out in my mind. It is the classic underdog tale but in this version you have the two countries carrying their nations hopes and dreams. Amidst the Cold War, the Soviet Union and United States were natural enemies, a rivalry that carried over in the 1980 Winter Olympics. The film does a good job balancing the story of a team with the story of our country during this time of tense uncertainty. From flashing clips of news reports on the political climate, and using original radio broadcasts Miracle captured the environment of the Cold War era and its effects on American families.
The film also strives to focus on the players themselves outside of the politics that surrounded them. Audiences got to know the men from the beginning, back when they were just a bunch of inexperienced college players and the rivalries between schools fueled their passion. Players like Jim Craig, Mike Eruzione, Jake O’Callahan, Rob McClanahan, and Ralph Cox were at the center of the film, essentially making it more about the people then the game. The film connects its audience to the characters, making the “Miracle on Ice” even more emotional and fulfilling.
Miracle reminded audiences of one of the greatest victories the United States ever had in any Olympics to date. But more importantly it showcased the amount of hard work; perseverance, strength, integrity, intelligence, and sheer drive this team and its coach dedicated to representing its country. More than a hockey game the “Miracle on Ice” and the men who made it happened took on more meaning then any sports event before it. It reminded Americans to stay strong, have hope, and to keep the American dream alive.