Fascinating historical doco weaves a riveting high-stakes narrative around the 1956 Olympic water polo semi-final between Hungary and the Soviet Union, which turned into a bloodbath.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2007
This fascinating historical documentary takes a seemingly obscure subject – the 1956 Hungarian water polo team – and weaves around it a riveting narrative in which the ideals of the free world are at stake. In late November 1956, the water polo teams from Hungary and the Soviet Union met in an Olympic semi-final that would go down as the bloodiest match in history. Outside the pool, the world was in turmoil. Just weeks beforehand, the Hungarian people had engaged in the first popular revolution ever staged against Soviet rule. Within days, the Soviets staged a counterattack, crushing the Hungarian revolution with brutal and bloody force. When the two best water polo teams in the world climbed into the pool at the Melbourne Olympics, it became a highly charged political battle fought in the water. Wonderful historical footage shows the sublime athletes in training, swimming with Herculean strength and the grace of ballet dancers. Fifty years later, the two teams meet again for an emotional reunion. Narrated by 1972 US swimming Gold medalist Mark Spitz. — Bianca Zander