Saturday, 02 March 2024

One Coach, One Gold Medal, 20 Kids, Two Movies

There have been two movies since the United States stunned the world and won the gold medal at the 1980 Olympics. In 1981 “Miracle on Ice” was released as a made for TV movie and starred Karl Madden as Team USA’s Coach Herb Brooks. Twenty-three years later and only a year before the 25th anniversary of the special event in Lake Placid, NY, Hollywood produced its own version of the 1980 Olympic hockey team with Kurt Russell playing Coach Herb Brooks.

In my project I will look at the differences and similarities of these movies by comparing specific scenes from each. I will look at camera techniques, the portrayal of Coach Brooks’ coaching style, and the use of Patti Brooks (wife of Herb Brooks) in the two movies.

In the first days that this project was getting off the ground I knew then that I wanted to produce something video related. With video being my primary interest in the Mass Communications Major, my only problem was trying to figure out what my project would actually entail. I had seen “Miracle” early on in the semester but it was only when I saw “The Miracle on Ice” that I knew what I would do.

When two movies are based on actual events, there isn’t much that can be different about them. At least that’s what I thought. Sure the storyline and some of the events are the same, but “Miracle” and “Miracle on Ice” are two completely different movies. In “Miracle” you see Hollywood’s new camera techniques and the scripting of elaborate scenes to make you feel as if you are actually in the game. On the other hand, in “Miracle on Ice” there is more play on Herb’s relationship with the team captain Mike Eruzione and why he pushes him as hard as he does. All told, the two movies, 20 years apart, are almost night and day with what they stressed and how they went about doing it.

When this project first surfaced in January 2005 I could not have told you one thing about Buzz Schneider, Mike Eruzione or Jim Craig. I could not have told you who won the 1980 Olympic Hockey Gold Medal or why the event was so significant. I could not have told you one thing about Herb Brooks and how much I would look up to and admire him only five months later.

Herb Brooks was a man that you loved one second but hated the next; that was just how he was. His philosophy of winning as a team and not as individuals was taught to me years ago by many coaches, but it never hit home till I came to know and understand Coach Brooks while working on this project. He took 20 kids from across the country and turned them into the best hockey team in the world. He used his coaching techniques and his ability to motivate players to perform above their peak to win the 1980 Olympic Gold Medal and give the United States something to cheer about.

Dedication- In my eyes, that is one word sums up Herb Brooks. He willed that team with his preparation and grittiness to play better than they ever thought they could. His dedication to the team and giving his team the best possible chance to win is why I look up to him the most. Every hour of his day was dedicated to making the team better

As I am finishing my last semester of school and am getting ready to go into the working world, dedication is one value Brooks has taught to me. There are always things that will be hard to achieve in our lifetime and we must make sacrifices to reach them.

It seems like yesterday this project was presented to me and I realized that I knew nothing about the 1980 Olympics. I knew nothing about the hockey team. I knew nothing about Herb Brooks and I knew nothing about the events that preceded the Olympics. I don’t know how I could have been so blind.

In 1980 I wasn’t even a thought in my parents’ minds, but now I feel as if I had lived through that year. I now realize how tumultuous that time really was. The gas crisis, cold war and the hostage crisis in Iran were all events that created a sense of unrest in America. The 1980 Hockey team and Herb Brooks gave us a reason to smile and say we are proud to be Americans.