Film: Miracle

Do you believe in miracles? YES!
Al Michaels

Miracle is a 2004 film starring Kurt Russell based on the true story of 1980 US Ice Hockey team and the "Miracle On Ice" at the 1980 Winter Olympics.


This film provides examples of:

  • American Accents: Herb definitely carries a strong Upper Midwest accent, but although he's from Minnesota, he is most certainly NOT Minnesota Nice, at least to his players.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "Who do you play for?" is the question Herb keeps asking the team and he keeps getting the expected answers from his team of bitter rivals and prideful players ("Massachusetts!" "Minnesota!"). It takes constant drilling and verbal abuse and even more constant drilling together for the team to finally understand what it means to be the American Olympic Hockey Team. "I play for... The United States of America!
  • Based on a True Story
  • Big "YES!": The answer to Al Michaels's iconic call of "Do you believe in miracles?!"
  • Censorship by Spelling: A banner hung during a game: "Soviets, get the puck out of Afghanistan!"
  • Cold War: In the background of the build-up to the Lake Placid Olympics, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is threatening to cancel the whole thing before the hockey team can get there.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Beating the unstoppable Soviets — gold medal winners in the previous four Olympics — with a bunch of college kids seems like an impossible goal, which is why Herb tells his squad "this cannot be a team of common men, because common men go nowhere."
  • David Versus Goliath
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: The Soviets had won gold for the previous four Olympiads. To put this in perspective, the last time the Soviet Union failed to win Olympic gold, most of the Miracle team had not yet been born. No wonder they were scared.
  • Direct-to-DVD: Its fate in the UK (see also Invincible and The Greatest Game Ever Played).
  • Foregone Conclusion: Yes, team USA wins.
  • Genghis Gambit: Implied to be the reason Brooks is so hard on his players - if they're united against him, they "won't have time to fight each other."
  • "Hell Yes" Moment: Invoked by Brooks during the semifinal game against the Soviets. At the start of the second period, Vladislav Tretiak is substituted by Vladimir Myshkin. Brooks uses it as a rallying point for his players, pointing out that they, a bunch of scrappy college players and amateurs, managed to bench arguably the best goaltender in the world.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Downplayed for Brooks regarding his decision to keep the US players from interviewing the media during the Olympics in order for them to keep their focus - reporters suggest he's doing it to hog the spotlight for himself.
  • Meaningful Name: Mike Eruzione. It's Italian for "eruption."
  • Miracle Rally: For Americans, it's THE Miracle Rally.
  • Opposing Sports Team: The Soviets, though they're not portrayed as an "evil" team like most examples of this trope. They're simply shown as being a superior hockey team — which, in all honesty, they were. As Brooks pointed out, if their Olympic team played the Soviets ten times, the Soviets might win nine... but not that night. And not that game.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The US team, but gradually grow into True Companions.
  • The Rival: The Soviet Union, probably the best team in the world at the time having won the gold medal in 1964, 1968, 1972 and 1976.
  • Rousing Speech: Coach Brooks has a particularly awesome one delivered to his team before their game versus the Soviets, which is basically verbatim from the real one he gave.
    Brooks: Great moments... are born from great opportunity. And that's what you have here, tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here tonight. One game. If we played 'em ten times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight, we stay with them. And we shut them down because we can! Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players. Every one of you. And you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time is done. It's over. I'm sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw 'em. This is your time. Now go out there and take it!
  • The '70s: While the Games are played in 1980, the recruiting and training are still in the 70s, while the culture and events are clearly still rooted to this decade.
  • Shown Their Work: During the USA's game against West Germany (FRG), the scoreboard mistakenly shows the team abbreviation GDR, which was German Democratic Republic, or East Germany. However, the mistake wasn't made by the filmmakers; rather, it happened in the original game.
    • Every major moment/play, many of the little details (such as the way the original players held their sticks, or Eruzione's victory-run across the ice), even the actors' likenesses were gone over rigorously from the original game to make it as close as possible. Just look at the making-of extras.
  • Sports Widow: Brooks's wife wishes he would pick his head from out of the game film and have some family time every now and then, but for the most part, she stays supportive of his goal, especially once it becomes clear how important their Olympic performance could be.
  • Training from Hell: After a particularly lackluster exhibition performance, Herb has them skating line sprints well past the time the arena lights go off until they understand who they play for. Counts for the cast as well; to make their fatigue look as real as possible, they actually did the sprints for hours on end over three days.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Herb Brooks. Much of his Training from Hell and harsher moments are done specifically so he can mold the hockey team into one that can beat the Soviet Union, and at times provoke players into giving him their very best performances. As stated in-film, "Herb has a reason for everything he does".
    Herb: A bruise on the leg is a hell of a long way from the heart, candy-ass!
    Rob McClanahan: What'd you call me?
    Herb: You heard me.
    Rob: YOU WANT ME TO PLAY, HUH?! IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?!
    Herb: I want you to be a hockey player!
    Rob: I AM A HOCKEY PLAYER! YOU WANT ME TO PLAY ON ONE LEG! I'LL PLAY ON ONE LEG! *restrained by teammates trying to go after Herb*
    Herb (out of earshot leaving the room): That'll get them going?
    Asst. Craig Patrick (smiling): Oh yeah. I'll clean up.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: The final game for the US was not against the Soviets, but Finland, who were also a very strong team. note