Bret Hart 'The ultimate backstage pass'  Click Here 'Earl Hebner
Legend
Order Video
About Bret Hart
About The Film
The Double Cross (David Meltzer)
Wrestling Links
High Road Productions
Contact High Road Productions
Contact High Road Productions
Contact High Road Productions
Contact High Road Productions
Contact High Road Productions
Home:  HITMAN HART, wrestling with shadows
Click Here.
Click Here. Click Here.
11/16/1998 11:08:52 PM

Broadcast Week (Globe&Mail;) review
a compelling story masterfully told.
Like great art, its essence lies not in the subject matter at hand, but in the
universal themes that drive it - loyalty, betrayal, jealousy, revenge.

The Ring of Truth
Wrestling with Shadows finds the metaphor in fighting the good fight

By Grant McIntyre

This is a crass generalization, but my guess is, if you're a Globe reader,
there's a good chance you're not a fan of WWF wrestling. And yet
there's a good chance you'll be fascinated and thoroughly satisfied by the
documentary Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows.

Filmmaker Paul Jay (The Never-endum Referendum) went behind the
scenes of professional wrestling to take a close look at the life of last
year's World Wrestling Federation champion, Bret ‘Hitman' Hart. In
the midst of filming, a scandal centering on Hart and WWF owner Vince
McMahon - what became known as ‘the biggest double-cross in
wrestling history' unfolded right before the cameras. As Jay put it,
when he started shooting, he had no idea ‘the gods of documentary film
would smile on us.'

Before the gods enter the fray, Jay goes deep into Hart's background.
Hart himself, a Calgarian, is more normal than you'd expect, especially
considering his roots. His parents had eight sons and four daughters. All the
boys became wrestlers and all the girls married wrestlers. His father, Stu
Hart, was a wrestler in his own time, the kind you see in black-and-white
footage, wearing swimming trunks and leather boots. He used to invite
aspiring young fighters to the Hart home to demonstrate excruciating holds
on them. One of Bret's sisters recalls often hearing the cries of pain
emanating from the basement, and tells of tape-recording a particularly
noisy session. We get to hear the tape as the victim's screams for mercy,
intermittent slaps and Stu telling him to ‘have some discipline!' over
some drawling country and western music. Then we get to see old Stu
present day doing the same thing to some burly young sap.

Out of this bizarre world, Bret emerged to become one of the wrestling
world's most loved heroes. Good-looking and intelligent, Hart rose to the
top of the wrestling ranks as a ‘good guy' wrestler to become the WWF
champion. People all over the world loved him. We see children in India
clamouring for his autograph.

Why do half a billion people around the world watch professional wrestling
every week? The Film hints at an answer. If not a legitimate sport, wrestling
is a theatre of good vs. evil. It's a place where, as one fan points out, you
can boo the bad guys and the bad guys don't really mind,

Because it's all part of their job. They're like the villains in pantomime
theatre.

But in the midst of Hart's reign as good-guy champion, a couple of
changes start to upset the wrestling world. Audiences begin to shift their
support to the bad guys and Hart is urged to turn ‘bad' himself to retain
popularity. That Hart is Canadian adds a national dimension, and the comic
pantomime turns bitter. At the same time, Ted Turner's WCW, a rival
wrestling establishment, threatens the survival of McMahon's WWF.
Eventually, Hart is left no choice but to accept a lucrative offer to join
Turner's WCW. As Hart's last match as champion approaches, Jay's
camera deftly separates theatre from reality.

Hart and McMahon negotiate a way for Hart to surrender the
championship belt without losing face. But the script changes and Hart is
duped in front of a packed Molson Centre in Montreal. The final conflict
between Hart and McMahon is played out with the pacing and the tension
of a well-structured drama.

Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows is a compelling story masterfully told.
Like great art, its essence lies not in the subject matter at hand, but in the
universal themes that drive it - loyalty, betrayal, jealousy, revenge. Even if
you hate wrestling - especially if you hate wrestling - you must see this
great doc. Or I'll rip your freakin head off.

Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows airs on TVO's The View From
Here, Wednesday at 10 p.m.; repeats Sunday, Nov. 22 at 11 p.m.

[ News Index Page ]

HITMAN HART wrestling with shadows
HITMAN HART wrestling with shadows
Order Video | About The Film | The Double Cross | Video Stills
News and Reviews | Discussion Forum | About The Director | Merchandise
Wrestling Links | High Road Productions | Contact | Home
HITMAN HART wrestling with shadows
HITMAN HART wrestling with shadows © 1998 High Road Productions. All Rights Reserved.