|Directed by||Colin Keith Gray |
Megan Raney Aarons
|Written by||Colin Keith Gray |
Megan Raney Aarons
|Produced by||Kristine Lacey |
Andrew G. Vajna
|Narrated by||Mark Spitz|
|Music by||Les Hall|
Cinergi Pictures Entertainment
|Languages||English, Hungarian with English subtitles|
Freedom's Fury is a documentary film about the Melbourne, Australia 1956 Summer Olympics semifinal water polo match between Hungary and the USSR, and the events that led up to the violent battle, the match that what would later be known as the "Blood in the Water match."
The documentary was written and directed by Colin Keith Gray and Megan Raney Aarons, the brother and sister duo better known as "The Sibs". Gray's Michigan co-alumnus Lucy Liu, while working on Kill Bill, helped them enlist Quentin Tarantino as co-executive producer with Liu in 2001.
Freedom's Fury was produced by Kristine Lacey, executive produced by Quentin Tarantino, Lucy Liu, Amy Sommer, and Andrew G. Vajna, and co-produced by Thor Halvorssen. Narration was provided by Olympic gold medalist Mark Spitz, who as a teenager had been coached by Ervin Zádor.
Near the close of World War II in 1945, Hungary was liberated from the Nazis by the forces of the Soviet Union. While there was initial jubilation amongst the people of Hungary, they soon found that they had only exchanged one totalitarian regime for another. As Hungarian educator Karoly Nagy puts it in the film, "yes, we were liberated from one devastating, dictatorial, extremist, horrible creature called Nazis [clears throat], but, during that course, a lot of people were also liberated from all their belongings, they were liberated from their rights, they were liberated from their freedom and life, women were liberated from their honor ..."
By 1956 (the year of the Melbourne Summer Olympics), Hungarian tensions with the satellite government installed by the Soviet Union had risen to the point of mass uprising and, eventually, outright revolution. The film documents the meeting (and subsequent battle) between the representatives of these two rival nations, and in a larger sense, became a globally televised embodiment of the Hungarian people's fight for independence under the communist regime.
The documentary tells the story of the young star of the Hungarian Olympic waterpolo team, Ervin Zádor, who finds himself the unwitting focal point of one of the most politicized sports matches ever played, popularly known as the "Blood in the Water" match.
The journey of Zádor and the Hungarian waterpolo team to the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne becomes the film's through-line as "Freedom's Fury" explores the larger human tragedy of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
As the revolution rages in the city below, the team is on an isolated mountaintop training camp near Budapest, and doesn't learn the details of the savage crushing of the revolt and brutalization of Hungarian citizens by Soviet forces until they land in Melbourne. The animosity they feel towards the Soviet occupiers for the atrocities they committed is transferred to the Soviet players.
After the match, Zádor and half his teammates decide to defect rather than return to the oppression in their homeland.
In the final act, the documentary also touches on how the Hungarian Revolution become a symbol of freedom and impacted the collapse of communism in 1989.
The making of the film allowed for the reconnection of the surviving members of both teams nearly fifty years after the bloody match, this time under very different circumstances. Writer and director Colin Gray said of the men:
Both teams were as much a victim of the circumstances and really both countries were imprisoned by the same ideology - and these guys were able to finally reconnect as human beings and as fellow athletes ... That was something that we really wanted to highlight, the sort of humanistic side to counter the sort of oppression of ideology that everyone had suffered under in the Eastern bloc.
Release and reception
The Canadian premiere earned "The Sibs" congratulations in the House of Commons of Canada via a private member's statement made by Andrew Telegdi. In the year of the film's release, Gray and Aarons were granted Hungary's highest civilian honour, the Knight's Cross Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary.
Freedom's Fury was screened at the following festivals:
- Hungarian Film Week 2006
- Global Peace Festival 2006
- Waterfront Film Festival 2006
- Bahama Film Festival 2006
- Cinequest 2006
- Tribeca Film Festival 2006
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- Sage, Amanda (27 Sep 2006). "Freedom's Fury: The bloodiest game in Olympic history". Xpress. Archived from the original on 6 April 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
- "Ervin Zador: Blood on the water". The Independent, 2 December 2006. Archived from the original.
- "Thor Halvorssen". IMDb.
- Nikola Krastev (2006-05-05). "Hungary: New Film Revisits 1956 Water-Polo Showdown". RFE/RL. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
- "Freedom's Fury". Pacific Cinémathèque. Archived from the original on 2009-02-20. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
- Martha Fischer. "Tribeca Review: Freedom's Fury". Moviefone.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-10. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
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- Hansard, House of Commons, 2006
- "Freedom's Fury Overview". FilmBaby.com. Retrieved 2011-11-19.