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
Mike Rich (uncredited)
Starring Kurt Russell
Patricia Clarkson
Noah Emmerich
Music by Mark Isham
Cinematography Dan Stoloff
Edited by John Gilroy
Daric Loo
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • 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, portrayed by Kurt Russell, that won the gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics. The American team's victory over the heavily favored Soviet professionals in the medal round was dubbed the Miracle on Ice. Miracle was directed by Gavin O'Connor and written by Eric Guggenheim and Mike Rich.[2][3]


The University of Minnesota head coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) interviews with the United States Olympic Committee for the national team coach's job, discussing his philosophy on how to beat the Soviet team, calling for changes to the practice schedule and strategy. There is the added context that these Olympic games are occurring during the Cold War, making the Soviet team even more important than they already were.

Brooks meets his assistant coach Craig Patrick (Noah Emmerich) at the tryouts in Colorado Springs. 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 reluctantly agrees to take the heat from the committee.

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. Brooks then introduces the players to a new conditioning drill, which becomes known as "Herbies", in order to better prepare them for Lake Placid.

During an exhibition game against Norway in Oslo that ends in a 3–3 tie, Brooks notices the players are distracted by girls in the stands and not playing up to their potential. After the game, he orders them back on the ice to skate "Herbies" until they get the point. Exhausted, forward Mike Eruzione interrupts Brooks and cries out whom he plays for: The United States of America. Brooks tells them they're done and all of the players sigh in relief.

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 missed slashing 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 heavily checking 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 engulfs Eruzione while the crowd is ecstatic.

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 go on to defeat Finland 4–2 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 Brooks.
Noah Emmerich Craig Patrick Assistant General Manager and Assistant Coach under Brooks.
Sean McCann Walter Bush General Manager of the U.S. Olympic hockey team.
Kenneth Welsh Doc Nagobads U.S Olympic team physician and long-time friend of Brooks.
Eddie Cahill Jim Craig U.S. Olympic team’s starting goaltender. Plays in every minute of every game.
Patrick O'Brien Demsey Mike Eruzione Forward and captain of the U.S. Olympic team. Scores the game-winning goal against the Soviets.
Michael Mantenuto Jack O'Callahan Defenseman on the U.S. Olympic team. Injures his knee in an exhibition game but returns against the Soviets and makes a key shot that leads to a U.S. goal.
Nathan West Rob McClanahan Forward on the U.S. Olympic team. Gets into a fight with O’Callahan in the first practice.
Kenneth Mitchell Ralph Cox Last player cut from the team during tryouts because Brooks can only take twenty players.
Eric Peter-Kaiser Mark Johnson Forward on the U.S. Olympic team. Scores two out of the four goals in the victory over the Soviets. Known as the most skilled player on the team. MVP of the team.
Bobby Hanson Dave Silk Forward on the U.S. Olympic team who receives a pair of silky underwear from the guys at Christmas.
Joseph Cure Mike Ramsey Defenseman and youngest player on the U.S. Olympic team.
Billy Schneider Buzz Schneider Forward on the U.S. Olympic team and part of the Conehead line. Billy is Buzz's son.
Nate Miller John Harrington Forward on the U.S. Olympic team and part of the Conehead line.
Chris Koch Mark Pavelich Forward on the U.S. Olympic team and part of the Conehead line. Assists Baker on the tying goal against Sweden and Eruzione on the game-winning goal against the Soviets.
Kris Wilson Phil Verchota Forward on the U.S. Olympic team.
Stephen Kovalcik Dave Christian Forward on the U.S. Olympic team. Shoots the puck at Tretiak with very little time left during the first period against the Soviets. Johnson scores on the rebound.
Sam Skoryna Steve Janaszak Expected to be the top goaltender of the U.S. Olympic team after winning a national championship in 1979 and taking home the tournament MVP, but is placed behind goaltender Craig and never plays during the Olympics.
Pete Duffy Bob Suter Defenseman on the U.S. Olympic team.
Nick Postle Bill Baker Defenseman on the U.S. Olympic team who 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 Soviet team.
Adam Knight Tim Harrer Forward brought in late to try out for the U.S. Olympic team, eventually cut.


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".[4] 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 accurate feel. 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 ensure the actors' safety. Players went through a six-week training camp to relearn the game in older equipment.[5]

Coach Brooks died in a car accident shortly after the film's principal photography was completed. The movie is dedicated to Brooks's memory. The dedication states at the end of the film, "He never saw it. He lived it."



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

The movie was released with a rating of PG, meaning that Parental Guidance is suggested.[8]

Missing scenes on video release[edit]

The Finland match was originally in the theatrical release including a locker room speech from Brooks and complete medal ceremony. The video version only shows a couple seconds of each.[citation needed]


Miracle received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 80%, based on 158 reviews, with the site's critical consensus reading, "Kurt Russell's performance guides this cliche-ridden tale into the realm of inspirational, nostalgic goodness."[9] On Metacritic the film has a score of 68 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[10]

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."[11] 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."[2] 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.[12]

As of January 2017 Miracle was rated the number two sports movie of all time with a rating of 8.85 out of 10 in the ongoing poll at Sports In Movies, after maintaining the number one spot for several years.[13]

Awards and honors[edit]

Miracle won the Best Sports Movie ESPY Award for 2004.[14]

In 2006, the American Film Institute nominated this film for AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers.[15] And In 2008, AFI nominated this film for its Top 10 Sports Films list.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Miracle – Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Turan, Kenneth (February 6, 2004). "Do you believe?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  3. ^ Vattiat, Drew (February 21, 2015). "Miracle on Ice 35 years later". The Oregonian. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "Miracle (2004) – About the Production". (January 30, 2004). HollywoodJesus.com. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  6. ^ "Soundtracks for Miracle". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  7. ^ "Box office / business for Miracle". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
  8. ^ "Parents Guide for Miracle". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 1, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Miracle". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  10. ^ "Miracle". Metacritic. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  11. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (February 6, 2004). "Miracle: A Hollywood Ending From Real Life". The New York Times. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  12. ^ "Jack O'Callahan interview". USA Hockey. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved February 18, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Guide to Sports Movies". SportsInMovies.com. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  14. ^ "The 2004 ESPY Awards winners". ESPN. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  15. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  16. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10" (PDF). American Film Institute. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 

External links[edit]