Film reveals a Russian hockey team’s confliction

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States engaged in proxy wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and the world of international ice hockey.

At the end of WWII, the Soviet Union was in shambles. There were more than 24 million casualties during the war, the economy was sluggish and infrastructure was obliterated in many cities. The communist regime needed a way to prove that their society was superior to the West.

Sports in many ways were a form of warfare for the Soviet Union. Boxing, gymnastics, figure skating and ice hockey were a way to demonstrate superiority to rival nations. In the documentary, “Red Army,” members of the USSR hockey team became heroes in the Soviet Union and represented the socialist triumph over the self-centered Western world.

The documentary delves into the history of the Soviet hockey team to better understand the men caught in the struggle between nations and economic systems. Interviews with players and coaches illustrate the pressures put on these young athletes to honor their country. Recounts of KGB interference in the team’s daily lives reveal the crushing influence of state politics on the athletes.

After a loss to the United States in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, the Soviet team began training with renewed vigor in pursuit of redemption. However, cruel coaches and the allure of profit in the NHL forced many players to question their commitment to the Soviet system. One does not need to be a hockey fan or even care about sports to appreciate this historical documentary.

While the hockey serves as the focus of the film, the message about individuals caught between superpowers presents a fascinating narrative.