BIRMINGHAM, Mich. — A private screening of RED ARMY, a feature documentary chronicling one of the most successful dynasties in sports history in the USSR hockey team, was viewed by a select few on Thursday night at Birmingham 8 Theater.
The film was largely centered around Red Army captain and former Red Wings defenseman Slava Fetisov as he shared his hockey story that began at the age of eight in Soviet Russia and came to an end with a Stanley Cup in Detroit. Through broken English and subtitles, Fetisov is as funny as he is emotional in this 85-minute behind-the-Iron Curtain look at the Russian perspective of the 1980 Miracle on Ice, his relationship with Red Army coach Viktor Tihkonov and fellow teammates as well as Russians defecting to North America in the late 1980s.
“Some of it I knew,” Fox Sports Detroit play-by-play announcer Ken Daniels said. “I knew how much they had gone through, I spoke with Fetisov quite a bit when he was here but I was glad they used subtitles because he was always difficult to understand.”
Daniels covered Fetisov during his time in Detroit and said the film does a great job of depicting the NHL veteran’s playfulness and sense of humor.
It’s not all laughs with Fetisov, though, as he detailed sad moments like the loss of his younger brother at a young age and the struggles he had with Tihkonov and government officials who threatened him and forced him to play for the national team.
“I did not know or couldn’t recall about his brother passing,” Daniels said. “I knew what they had gone through and I knew he had stood against that regime at the time.”
For the hockey fan, it offers a new perspective on the 1980 Miracle on Ice told from the Russian perspective. It also goes in-depth with the original Russian Five of Fetisov, Alexei Kasatonov, Sergei Makarov, Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov, showing highlights of their dominance as a five-man unit and how much of a brotherhood the team was while training in rigorous, 11-month hockey programs.
Tom Engelhardt, 37, from Novi, Mich., has been a hockey fan since the early 1980s and said the documentary was great for Wings fans. The audience heard from Scotty Bowman, who discussed his experience coaching against the Red Army as well as working with Russian players in Detroit and the success he had with them.
“I’m a huge hockey fan,” Engelhardt said. “The Russian Five was always kind of cool and then a Detroit version was just fantastic.”
The film was released in a limited capacity on Jan. 23, and to view the movie trailer or find theaters showing Red Army, visit sonyclassics.com/redarmy for more information.