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Miracle [DVD] (ITALIAN Import)
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Uplifting sports drama based on real events. Kurt Russell stars as Herb Brooks, the ice hockey player who became an inspirational coach and led the 1980 US Olympic Ice Hockey team into competition against the seemingly invincible Soviet squad.
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MIRACLE is the story of that legendary upset, and the grueling training that led up to that glorious moment, told from the perspective of the coach, Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell). A member of the 1960 Olympic squad, Brooks was cut from the team a week before its first Olympic match and subsequent gold medal victory. After that, the USSR Olympians dominated the sport for the next twenty years. Through his "boys", Brooks sought personal redemption and an end to Soviet hegemony.
The first film of 2003 of Oscar caliber was SEABISCUIT, the story of an earlier underdog. MIRACLE was perhaps the first 2004 release deserving Oscar consideration. Not for Best Picture, but for Russell as Best Actor (though I didn't believe for a moment that was the actor's real hair).
MIRACLE is about Coach Brooks. While the young actors that portray the twenty-some players do a creditable job, they're all pretty much lost against the background of team identity. And that's as it should be because their amazing victory was, and necessarily had to be, a team effort. This point is effectively made for the audience during a tortuous set of punishment drills after a poorly played match against the Swedish national team when one of Herb's players finally correctly answers the question he constantly poses, "Who do you play for?" It's a moment of revelation for all concerned.
Just as the horse race action in SEABISCUIT almost made me go down to the track and squander the mortgage payment on a first-ever bet, MIRACLE's camera work on the ice almost morphed me into a rabid hockey puck. You, the viewer, are right there in the thick of the furious melee expecting to be slammed against the boards or slashed with a stick at any moment. There's an adrenaline rush not felt with, say, curling.
At the film's end, a voiceover by Russell-Brooks reminds us that, soon after the 1980 Gold Medal upset, America's Olympic hockey team was opened to pro players of the National Hockey League to thus create the "Dream Team" concept - but no Olympic squad since then has ever captured "the dream". Honor is due Brooks and his amateurs.
It doesn't matter what your sport is, this is all about TEAM - if this does not get you going and motivated, nothing will! Kurt Russell's performance as Coach Brookes is worthy of an Oscar and the skating is top notch too!
Even if you don't know hockey, you will love this film - it is in my all time top ten - watch this now.
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