Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Legend no. 17 (orig. Легенда №17) [2013]

MPAA (UR would be PG-13/R)   KN.ru (8.28/10)  KP.ru (8.22/10)  KT.ru (8.55/10)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing

KinoNews.ru listing*   KinoPoisk.ru listing*
Kino-teatr.ru listing*    Kritikanstvo.ru listing*
Megacritic.ru listing*
Echo Moskvy (A. Eksler) review*
Film.ru (P. Pryadkin) review*
Gazeta.ru (V. Lyaschenko) review*
KinoNews.ru (R. Voholov) review*
KinoTeatr.ru (A. Filippov) review*
RusKino.ru (S. Stepnova) review*
sports.ru (I. Elchaninov) review*
sports.ru (V. Utkin) review*
Variety Russia (M. Latysheva) review*
RBC Daily (M. Latysheva) review

KinoTeatr.ru Interview w. Director*

Legend no. 17 (orig. Легенда №17) [2013] [IMDb] [KN.ru]*[KP.ru]*[KT.ru]* (directed and screenplay cowritten by Nikolay Lebedev [IMDb] [KN.ru]*[KP.ru]*[KT.ru]*, along with Nikolay Kulikov [IMDb] [KN.ru]*[KP.ru]*[KT.ru]* and Mikhail Mestetskiy [IMDb] [KN.ru]*[KP.ru]*[KT.ru]*) is a crowd-pleasing Russian "biopic" / "hockey movie" that played at the 2013 New York Russian Film Week whose films I've recently decided to try to find and review here on my blog.

The film would remind American / Western viewers of the (fictional) Rocky films [1976-] [en.wikip] [IMDb] mixed with the American Miracle on Ice [1981] [IMDb] [en.wikip] the latter being about howthe  remarkable, truly _amateur_ American national hockey team that was able to beat _even_ the Soviet national team (to our Western eyes never accepted as being truly an amateur team at a time when this was still a requirement at most international sporting events) at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY and thus win the Olympic Gold medal then.... 

The current Russian film is about #17 Valeriy Kharlamov [en.wikip] [ru.wikip]*(played in the film by Danila Kozlovskiy [IMDb] [KN.ru]*[KT.ru]*) one of the stars of the Soviet National Team in the 1970s and his / his team's _own struggles_ to gain respect in the lead-up to the 1972 "Super Series" [en.wikip] [ru.wikip]* between the Soviet National Team and a Canadian team made-up of NHL All-Stars (of truly "Canada's best" at the time -- including such NHL legendary players as Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr and Bobby Clarke).

This is a film, therefore, that almost inevitably will produce a fair amount of emotion in the West, not only for those of us who do remember the Cold War and these various "competitions between systems" of that era, but also HONESTLY as a result of the _current war_ in Ukraine, which is increasingly being called the start of, at minimum, "Cold War Light" and/or even more depressingly "Cold War II." 

Yet, I do honestly continue to believe that it's valuable for Americans and Westerners and perhaps even some Russians themselves to be reminded (again) that Russia remains a far more diverse place than either Putin or a fair amount of the Western media would like to portray it as.  I do honestly believe it is worth it for Readers here to check out the various Russian language reviews that I cite above.  One get get pretty good sense translations of them by reading them through Google's Chrome browser and/or by cutting and pasting their URLS into translate.google.com.  If one would do so, one would find wide variety of opinions about the film from the points of view of all kinds of Russians including sports enthusiasts, film enthusiasts, politicos, and often from many, many reader comments from regular people.  Many / most do compare the film to "Rocky" or "Hollywood" in general and they help explain (and often challenge) some of the timeline / historical aspects of the film. (There are aspects of the story that are conflated, simplified, but as a whole IMHO they do appear to ring true).

And in any case, the film makes for a _very nice_ "growing up" / "coming of age" story of a young Russian hockey player who had a pretty tough, interestingly SPANISH mother (played by Alejandra Grepi [IMDb] [KT.ru]*) who pushed _for him_ (taking-on the head coach at one point, arguing with him "Why aren't you playing my son.  He's the best one you've got!" :-) and then a tough but SUPER FAIR mentor figure, the legendary Russian (Soviet-era) hockey coach Anatoliy Tarasov [en.wikip] [ru.wikip]* (played in the film by Oleg Menshikov [IMDb] [KN.ru]*[KT.ru]*) WHO ENDED-UP BEING FIRED as head coach of the Soviet National Team just as it was getting good FOR REFUSING TO "PLAY POLITICS" (WITH ANYBODY ... apparently all the way up to then Soviet leader Brezhnev [en.wikip] [ru.wikip]* ;-) WITH REGARDS TO THE TEAM. 

One gets to see Kharlamov [en.wikip] [ru.wikip]* grow-up, from the time that he his mother and sister were able to visit their Spanish relatives in the 1960s (and witness the Running of the Bulls at Pamplona) through his time in the 3rd league (in America we'd call it "the minors") playing for the Stars (Chvesta) in Chebarkul, an industrial town in the Urals where he and a friend / fellow future Russian/Soviet hockey great Boris Mikhaylov [en.wikip] [ru.wikip]*(played by Timur Efremenkov [IMDb] [KT.ru]*) realized that unless they came to stand-out they were destined to stay (and so they started scoring goals left and right until they did get noticed and were pulled-up up to the Spartyak and later CSKA hockey teams in Moscow).  From there both of them made the national team, and eventually played in the 1972 Super Series.

Kharlamov and his Irina wife (played in the film by Svetlana Ivanova [IMDb] [KN.ru]*[KT.ru]*) were killed in 1981 in a car accident outside of Moscow.  After his death, his number 17 was retired from both the CSKA and Soviet/Russian national hockey teams.

 Again, it's a story that any "Rocky" fan could understand ;-)

* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser. 

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