Miracle (2004 film)

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Miracle film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gavin O'Connor
Produced by Mark Ciardi
Gordon Gray
Ross Greenburg
Justis Greene
Jon Mone
Greg O'Connor
Written by Eric Guggenheim
Starring Kurt Russell
Patricia Clarkson
Noah Emmerich
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • February 6, 2004 (2004-02-06)
Running time
135 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $28 million[1]
Box office $64.4 million

Miracle is a 2004 American sports docudrama about the United States men's hockey team, led by head coach Herb Brooks, that won the gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics. The USA team's victory over the heavily favored Soviet team in the medal round was dubbed the Miracle on Ice. Miracle was directed by Gavin O'Connor and written by Eric Guggenheim.


The film chronicles the journey of the 1980 US Olympic Mens ice hockey team. Then University of Minnesota head coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) interviews with the United States Olympic Committee, discussing his philosophy on how to beat the Soviet team, calling for changes to the practice schedule and strategy.

Brooks meets his assistant coach Craig Patrick (Noah Emmerich) at the tryouts in Colorado Springs. However, Brooks selects a preliminary roster of 26—later to be cut to a final roster of 20—indifferent of the tryouts and the preferences of senior USOC hockey officials. He convinces Walter Bush (Sean McCann), the executive director of the committee, that he has their best interests at heart. Bush agrees to take the heat from the committee, saying, "I'll back you up on this one."

During the initial practice, tempers flare as forward Rob McClanahan and defenseman Jack O'Callahan get into a fight based on an old college rivalry. Brooks bluntly tells the players that they are to let go of old rivalries and start becoming a team. He then calls for introductions, in which each player states his name, his hometown, and for whom he plays.

The coach starts the team on an exhausting conditioning drill (which became known as "Herbies"), in which the team skates together back and forth across the ice, over and over.

During an exhibition game against the Norwegian National Team in Oslo that ends in a 3–3 tie, Brooks notices the players are distracted by pretty blond girls in the stands and not playing up to their potential. After the game, in a wrenching scene, he makes them run "Herbies" far into the night, asking the team who it was that they played for. Exhausted, forward Mike Eruzione finally responds with the answer that Herb had wanted all along, "I play for the United States of America!" and the drills are ended.

The team plays the Soviets in an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden. The Soviets manhandle the young American team, winning by a score of 10-3. During the game, O'Callahan receives an injury that could keep him out of the entire Olympics, and starting goaltender Jim Craig is told he may be benched in favor of back-up goalie Steve Janaszak. Craig ends up retaining his starting job when the coach brings him to realize that he hasn't been giving his very best.

As the Olympic tournament begins, the Americans trail Sweden 2-1 in the first game. Brooks fires up the team during the break by overturning a table in his way and accusing injured McClanahan of quitting (Doc had said his injury wouldn't get worse if he played on it.) McClanahan ends up playing despite his pain, and the inspired American team came through as Bill Baker scores a goal in the final minute for a dramatic 2-2 tie. They follow that up with a 7-3 win over heavily favored Czechoslovakia, then victories over Norway, Romania and West Germany to earn a spot in the medal round.

The Americans are considered overwhelming underdogs to the Soviets in the first medal round game. The game begins and following a slash which doesn't get called a penalty, the Soviets score the first goal. Then O'Callahan, having healed enough from his injury, enters the game for the first time. He makes an immediate impact by knocking down Vladimir Krutov on a play that leads to a goal by Buzz Schneider. Following another Soviet goal the first period winds down. In the final seconds the Soviet goalie Vladislav Tretiak stops a long shot by Dave Christian, but Mark Johnson gets the rebound and scores with less than one second left in the period - the clock shows 00:00.

During the first intermission the Soviet coach replaces Tretiak with backup Vladimir Myshkin. In the second period the Soviets score a goal to go up 3–2. Early in the final period the Soviet team is called for a penalty, giving the Americans a man advantage. Johnson scores his second goal of the game just as the penalty is about to expire. Later Eruzione enters the game and scores to give the US a 4-3 lead. The entire team skates onto the ice as the crowd celebrates.

Now, however, the US team goes into a defensive mode, as the Soviet team becomes increasingly aggressive to score in the final ten minutes. The clock ticks down the final few seconds, in which commentator Al Michaels says his now famous words, "Do you believe in miracles?! Yes!" The Americans are able to hold off the Soviets, and complete one of the biggest upsets in sports history. As the team proudly celebrates on the ice with the roaring crowd, an obviously emotional, shaken and proud Herb leaves the rink to an empty corridor to have a few seconds of quiet with himself, taking in what he and the team have just accomplished.

Two days later, the team would then go on to defeat Finland to win the gold medal. The movie ends with Brooks staring out over his team with pride as the entire team crowds together on the gold medal platform.


Actor Role Notes
Kurt Russell Herb Brooks U.S. Olympic hockey coach who leads the team to an Olympic gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Patricia Clarkson Patti Brooks Wife of Herb Brooks.
Noah Emmerich Craig Patrick Assistant General Manager and Assistant Coach under Herb Brooks.
Sean McCann Walter Bush General Manager of the U.S. Olympic hockey team.
Kenneth Welsh Doc Nagobads Long-time friend of Herb Brooks and the team physician.
Eddie Cahill Jim Craig U.S. Olympic team’s starting goaltender. Plays in every minute of every game.
Patrick O'Brien Demsey Mike Eruzione Plays forward and becomes captain of the U.S. Olympic team. He scores the game-winning goal against the Soviets.
Michael Mantenuto Jack O'Callahan Plays on the U.S. Olympic hockey team. He injures his knee in an exhibition game against the Soviets but returns against the Soviets and makes a key hit that leads to a U.S. goal.
Nathan West Rob McClanahan Gets into a fight with Jack O’Callahan in the first practice.
Kenneth Mitchell Ralph Cox Last player cut from the U.S. Olympic team because Herb Brooks can only take twenty players.
Eric Peter-Kaiser Mark Johnson Scores two out of the four goals in the victory over the Soviets. He is known as the most skilled player on the team. He was also MVP of the team.
Bobby Hanson Dave Silk Forward on the U.S. Olympic team who received a pair of silky underwear from the guys at Christmas.
Joseph Cure Mike Ramsey Youngest player on the U.S. Olympic team.
Billy Schneider Buzz Schneider Plays left wing and is a part of the Conehead line. Billy is Buzz's son.
Nate Miller John Harrington He plays on the Conehead line.
Chris Koch Mark Pavelich Assists Bill Baker on the tying goal against Sweden and Mike Eruzione on the game-winning goal against the Soviet Union. He is also part of the Conehead line.
Kris Wilson Phil Verchota Forward on the U.S. Olympic team.
Stephen Kovalcik Dave Christian Defenseman on the U.S. Olympic team. Shot the puck at Vladislav Tretiak with very little time left during the game against Russia, but then was rebounded by Mark Johnson.
Sam Skoryna Steve Janaszak Expected to be the top goaltender of the U.S. Olympic team, but is placed behind goaltender Jim Craig by coach Herb Brooks and never plays during the Olympics.
Pete Duffy Bob Suter Defenseman on the U.S. Olympic team.
Nick Postle Bill Baker Scores the game-tying goal against Sweden in the opening game of the Olympics.
Casey Burnette Ken Morrow Defenseman on the U.S. Olympic team.
Scott Johnson Steve Christoff Forward on the U.S. Olympic team.
Trevor Alto Neal Broten Forward on the U.S. Olympic team.
Robbie MacGregor Eric Strobel Forward on the U.S. Olympic team.
Joe Hemsworth Mark Wells Forward on the U.S. Olympic team.
Zinaid Memišević Viktor Tikhonov Hockey coach for the USSR team.


Gavin O'Connor directed and Mark Ciardi produced the movie. Both are drawn to inspirational stories and they decided to take on the "Greatest Sports Moment of the 20th Century".[2] They chose to focus on the determination and focus of coach Herb Brooks. O'Connor knew from the beginning that he wanted to cast Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks because he needed someone with an athletic background and a fiery passion for sports. The casting of the team consisted of real hockey players to give the film a raw and real feeling. O'Connor figured it would be easier to teach hockey players to act than to teach actors to play hockey. On-ice tryouts were held in New York, Boston, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Vancouver. Another tryout was held in Vancouver for the Soviet and European teams.

There are a total of 133 different hockey plays in the film. To accomplish this, the directors turned to ReelSports Solutions, who had helped with the producers on a previous movie, The Rookie. The ReelSports team referred to coach Herb Brooks for information on practices, plays, equipment, and uniform styles. Each fight and stunt scene was choreographed to insure the actors' safety. Players went through a six-week training camp to relearn the game in older equipment.[3]


The themes of teamwork and family are portrayed in the movie. The biggest themes come off the ice. Coach Herb Brooks juggles his dedication to his goal of winning and creating a top-tier team while also trying to be there for his family. The twenty players on the team become a family through their long process. They are all from different universities and teams, but learn to become one team representing the United States.[4]




The movie grossed $19,377,577 on its opening weekend, February 8, on 2,605 screens. It subsequently closed with a worldwide gross of $64,445,708.[7]


The movie received a 68 on Metacritic showing "generally favorable reviews" and an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite a lower rating by critics, the average user score on Metacritic is 8.4 signifying "universal acclaim". The consensus on Rotten Tomatoes is that "Kurt Russell's performance guides this cliche-ridden tale into the realm of inspirational, nostalgic goodness."[8] Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times stated that the movie "does a yeoman's job of recycling the day-old dough that passes for its story."[9] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times referred to the movie as "a classically well-made studio entertainment that, like The Rookie of a few years back, has the knack of being moving without shamelessly overdoing a sure thing."[10] O'Callahan said in an interview that while the fight between him and McClanahan was fictional the film accurately portrayed the "pretty intense" rivalry between Boston University and Minnesota players, and was overall "pretty darn close" to actual events.[11]

Miracle is currently standing as the number one sports movie of all time in the ongoing poll at Sports In Movies.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Miracle – Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
  2. ^ Fitzgerald, Brian (January 7, 2000). "1980 Miracle on Ice named Greatest Sports Moment of the Century". B.U. Bridge, vol. 3 no. 18. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  3. ^ "Miracle (2004) – About the Production". (January 30, 2004). HollywoodJesus.com. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  4. ^ Cornish, Ben. "Movie review – Miracle". ChristianAnswers.net. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  5. ^ "Soundtracks for Miracle". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  6. ^ "Awards for Miracle". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  7. ^ "Box office / business for Miracle". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
  8. ^ "Miracle". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  9. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (February 6, 2004). "Miracle: A Hollywood Ending From Real Life". The New York Times. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  10. ^ Turan, Kenneth (February 6, 2006). "Miracle review". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 6, 2011.[dead link]
  11. ^ "Jack O'Callahan interview". USA Hockey. Retrieved February 18, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Guide to Sports Movies". SportsInMovies.com. Retrieved March 25, 2011.

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