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. Now think of a time they had an unbelievable win. People are drawn into „Cinderella Story‟ teams, and that is exactly how the fans of the 1980 United States‟ Olympic hockey team feel. The coach of this team, Herb Brooks (played by Kurt Russell), states this event perfectly in his pregame speech, “If we played them [the Soviet Union] ten times, they might win nine, but not this time.” Brooks is referring to the Soviet Union, who won gold medals at the previous four Olympic Games and had a team that not even the NHL AllStars could beat. He knows the chances of beating the Soviet Union (USSR) are low, but he never loses hope. Brooks‟ determination and dedication is inspiration for the young men he leads. The movie Miracle (Walt Disney Pictures 2004) depicts the 1980 United States‟ Olympic hockey team on their road to the gold medal. They overcome adversity and skepticism to beating the hockey superpower of the time. However, they do not only beat the greatest team in the world but also learn to get along with twenty stubborn teammates and a strong willed coach. Coach Herb Brooks leads the group of twenty young men to beat the magnificent USSR in the semifinal matchup. However before this shining moment in front of the entire world, the team faces a few bumps and bruises along the way- literally. There are scenes of growth and maturity, but a few fights and confrontations along the way. Using emotion within three specific scenes, the writers of Miracle show how a group of young men come together to beat the Soviet Union while becoming teammates and working hard under the leadership of Brooks. At first,
they simply do not get along; however as difficult times pass, they realize they are in this for the long haul. Finally, they become a family and overcome all hardship to be the greatest hockey team at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games. Herb Brooks never gives up on his team, and in his heart, he keeps faith that his team can be the best. There are three scenes that focus on the progression of the team atmosphere. Each one involves Brooks, showing just how important his role is to the team. The scenes fall at different parts in the movie and show how the team becomes closer as the Olympics draw closer. In the three clips, Herb Brooks making his team stronger in unorthodox ways but obviously ways that make a enormous impression. His coaching styles are different, but they are the reason this team can beat the Soviet Union and past teams cannot. The first scene being discussed shows teammates fighting based on the outcome of NCAA playoff game, which takes place four years previous. In the second scene, Brooks conditions the men until they are on the ice panting and about to pass out. The last scene being reviewed displays four members expressing emotions to Coach Brooks about a newly acquired player. The four players tell him that they want to be a family and cannot see that happening with the new player, who is brought in late. The three scenes show the audience how the team works through trials and tribulations to be the contender for a gold medal. However, the team is driven by Herb Brooks from the inside. He does not play but always has faith in his players even if his emotions are indirect. Herb Brooks chooses each player for a specific reason, and everyone come from different collegiate teams. Since the men are some of the best in the country, they have played one another in important championship games. This alone causes conflict, but on top of it, the players are vying for top spots on the USA Olympic Team. Twenty-six players are chosen, but only twenty are brought to Lake Placid for the Winter Games. In the first practice scene, the current dynamic
of the team is shown. Jack O‟Callahan (played by Michael Mantenuto), who played for Boston University, takes on Robbie McClanahan (played by Nathan West), who played for University of Minnesota. While practicing, O‟Callahan checks McClanahan, which starts a fight. Brooks allows this fight and voices his opinion on how foolish the men look, while punches are being thrown and blood is clearly visible. The thoughts left in the audiences‟ minds are: Why does Brooks allow this? Does he want to players to get hurt? What message is he sending? At first glance, it appears that he allows fights, and he just does not care. However, that is completely untrue. One element that shows how badly he wants to win is the fact that he was cut from the 1960 Olympic team. It may be safe to say that Brooks wants the gold medal more than the boys, because twenty years have passed. His chance to play is gone, but he was given a second shot at Olympic glory. He is not going to let an old rivalry burden the chances of the ultimate goal. After the fight is broken up, Brooks yells, “Flow and creativity that‟s what this team is about gentlemen, not old rivalries.” Nothing will get in the way of what Brooks plans on doing. Brooks drives the team harder than the audience thinks possible, and this is shown from the beginning of first practice. He knows his team is capable, but Brooks needs the players to be confident and willing to work, which he voices from day one. As well, the scene shows how many differences the team has to overcome. It is only the first practice, and adversity is already present. As the fight continues, each player cheers on either O‟Callahan or McClanahan. The feelings towards the newly created team are apathetic. Players are not trying to stop the fight and a few others even get into to verbal disputes. The emotion shown by the team is at an all time low, and audiences wonder how the group will get over the differences. Brooks also realizes these boys are not „a team.‟ This scene shows how much work needs to be done, but by the end of the movie, the team acts like brothers. Brooks
knew what he was doing all along, and the first fight scene shows how much Brooks did to make his team ready for the Olympics. The second scene depicts Herb Brooks‟ toughness and feelings toward the tie with the Norwegian National Team. This tie is subpar, and Brooks makes it known that this type of play will not be tolerated. The boys have skate back and forth across the ice without rest for what seems to be hours. He does this until the entire team is on their hands and knees panting and can barely make it across the rink. Finally, Mike Eruzione stops the insanity by saying he plays for the United States of America. To someone who has never seen the movie, this may seem obvious, but all of the other men answered the question with the college they attended. Right after Eruzione‟s answer, Herb Brooks leaves the ice, saying, “That is all gentlemen,” indicating the conditioning is concluded. At this moment, Brooks finally realizes that he has gotten through to the team, and they now realize they are a team not an individual. His constant battle is over, because they finally know they play for the United States. No one can imagine skating this much, and the audience feels for the squad. The conditioning is brutal, but it represents how hard Brooks wants the gold medal. He is willing to do almost anything to get through that subpar play will not be tolerated. As well, the scene with players falling over after much conditioning is dark and grim. The lighting can be portrayed as the hope of the team. While the lights are on, the team does not know how long the practice will last. They can hope that it will be over once a few laps are skated. However once the lights are turned off, the boys are still forced to skate. They are panting and want to get out of this horrible situation, but with the lights gone, the hope is diminishing. As the whistle keeps blowing, the players mutter, “When will we get out of here?” and “How much do we have left?” Brooks works the players until he realizes that the United States is their new
team. The sound of the scene is also important. All the audience hears is skates across the ice, panting, and the whistle blowing. Mixed in all of these sounds is inspiration and criticism from Coach Brooks. This is a time of darkness for the team. They are being yelled at by the coach and about to fall over from so much conditioning. The sound in the arena shows that the coach is in total control. He has the team moving at the sound of his whistle, and his voice is constantly booming from his infuriation with the loss. At the end of the conditioning, his team knows what he stands for and a loss like this will not be tolerated. The last scene showing team growth occurs when four players talk to Herb Brooks after a game. A new, promising player is given a spot on the team, even though he is not there for the initial try-outs. Since the current players see this as unfair, they bring their feelings to Brooks. The confrontation is a large step as the team moves closer to the Olympics. At the beginning of try-outs, Brooks says, “I‟ll be your coach, I won‟t be your friend.” Finally after months of practice, the players see the coach as someone they can talk to and rely on to do what is best for the team. While the men are arguing with the coach, he fails to see their point other than they are scared of getting cut. However, one player finally says firmly, “We‟re a family.” Brooks is taken back by this and notices that he has made an impact on the team. Also, he realizes that bringing the new player was a mistake. This scene marks a spot where the team and coach see eye to eye. Before this, there is conflict, since Brooks is stuck in his ways, but finally, the team moves past this, and they are ready to conquer something beyond just playing- the relationship of the team. The directors use the line “We‟re a family” to show how close the team becomes in the few months they are together. There is something about a tough, strong hockey player saying such an emotional line. He really feels that the team has connected and does not want this to break up the team chemistry.
The line “We‟re a family” evokes emotion from the audience. After months of not getting along with Brooks, the player finally feels like he can tell his coach how he feels. Brooks shows that he will be a coach not a friend. However, this marks a place in the relationship where the coach and team finally put aside differences. Before this scene, there was distance between Brooks and players. In the movie, this scene marks a turning point. The team finally gets along. The line also causes the audience to think about their own experiences. This is the first time in the movie that the players have voiced love towards one another. The audience will ponder their lives and think of when their relationships changed either for the better or worse. Even though the movie is about hockey, the directors choose to focus on life issues such as friendships and relationships. The emotions shown in each of the previous scenes has the audience on an emotional roller coaster ride. However, this roller coaster starts low but ends at the highest point. The win over the Soviet Union is glorious, and audiences seem to forget about the past events experienced by the team. But it is difficult to forget how the team got to such a pinnacle. The scenes described show how the team started low and were fighting with one another. However, they came to realize whom they played for- The United States of America. On top of this, they became a family over a few short months. Herb Brooks uses unorthodox methods of coaching, but he makes an impact on his team. He instills that they are playing for a larger purpose than just for themselves individually. He is the main if not the only reason the team is able to win a gold medal. His constant yelling, drilling, and encouragement is the reason the team got to the place they did. Miracle shows how much the team changes over about an eight-month span. They go from arguing to being a family. Even though Brooks is not on the rink playing, he is the main contributor to the success of the 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Team.
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