FILM: Red Army


Red Army is a documentary that reveals the power of the Soviet regime through the medium of ice hockey.

Interviews with Slava Fetisov reveal his wholehearted commitment to the Soviet Union, as we see him go from national sports hero during the cold war, to political enemy, to Minister of Sport and finally to his privileged position within Russia’s Federal Assembly.

Red Army documents how the Soviet Union used hockey as propaganda tool. As they were producing some of the world’s greatest athletes, they were able to show the world that their system was to be admired.

The Soviet’s hockey team played a highly disciplined sport and knew how to work well as a unit. However when players were removed from that system, as some who defected to the USA and Canada were, they found it difficult to gel with their new teammates.

The western style of play was dramatically different from the way the Russian’s played the sport. Some describe it as a dance as the Russian players were so in tune to what their teammates were doing.

The documentary appears to take an objective stance on its subject but invariably uncovers the absolute power the Soviet system had over its citizens. It even goes as far as suggesting that the Soviet teams’ success was down to their indoctrination within the Soviet Union. Those who played for the hockey team were seen as members of the army and as such had to serve their country.

During the documentary, Fetisov tries moving to the US team but after much back and forth from the government of the USSR, it was ultimately forbidden. He doesn’t speak against the system though, despite the interviewer (Mark Deakins) perhaps trying to provoke criticism from the former team captain.

All in all this is a gripping documentary that looks at a much discussed period of history through a very different lens and one with which I was unfamiliar. A must-see for hockey and non-hockey fans alike.

Red Army is out in selected cinemas now

Niki Alexandrou


Niki Alexandrou

Niki Alexandrou

Niki Alexandrou

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