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Wrestling with Shadows is a documentary film which follows Bret Hart during his last year in the WWE, from his WWE Championship victory at SummerSlam to his final match with the company at Survivor Series on November 9, 1997.
I was lucky to watch the 2009 release featuring also the life and times of Owen Hart. I was shocked to see the honesty in this documentary. It gave me the most personal view of wrestlers and was extremely compelling. I had never really understood the montreal screwjob. I knew the jist of it but in this DVD, all the information spills out to the ground. A small account of Brets life is given but the concentration is on his last months in the WWE.
You wont get a better wrestling documentary ever. The film board of canada did fantastic to capture the story of Brets final days. Releases like Beyond the Mat have failed with success but this DVD is a must see.
You hear from his peers and family, but most importantly you can watch behind the scenes footage from the time of the Montreal Screwjob. When Bret Comes back into the dressing room, Shawn Michaels is there and they confront each other. There is a lot more but I wont spoil it for you.
So many WWE DVD's have failed to hit the mark when it comes to reviews but this DVD is different and that is becuase it is not by the WWE.
If you want to know more about the politics behind the scenes in the wrestling world then you are in for a shock. There is so much that you dont know!
I watched this instead or revising and I am very glad. I still got good grades and I got to watch a compelling story that was more useful to me than how weather patterns emerge...
Rating 4.8/5. The reason it doesnt hit 5 star is because the documentary does not confirm that Earl Hebner, HHH and Shawn Michaels were indeed involved in the "Screwjob"! If you dont know, now you know!
There's not much here for the unitiated, unlike Barry Blaustein's fantastic documentary Beyond the Mat, but for those interested in wrestling, and moreover, those who watched the "Montreal Screwjob" of 1997, this is rivetting viewing that is among the most intimate glimpses into the world of professional wrestling that we have ever seen.
The film revolves around the infamous "Montreal Screwjob", where WWF champion Bret "The Hitman Hart" was scripted to win the match, and then surrender his title the next night on national TV, because he was about to "jump ship" to rival company WCW, as they offered him a substantial amount of money. However, the script was changed without Bret's knowledge, and so his opponent, Shawn Michaels, won the match, and the title, under controversial circumstances. Bret fumed during the live broadcast after the match, spitting at Vince, and then backstage, once the show went off air, punching Vince in the eye.
What's astounding is the timing of this documentary - it opens as simply an intimate examination of what it takes to be one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. However, the filmmakers were lucky enough to make the documentary just as the screwjob happened - a superb coincidence that is a little suspicious, but ultimately just superb timing. It therefore captures both the highs and lows of his job, examining his role in his family unit, the feelings of his wife and kids, and his relationships with the other wrestlers. All in all, this is a thrilling inside look for those who enjoy wrestling.
A fascinating documentary that chronicles the end of Bret Hart's WWF career, Wrestling with Shadows is an incredibly intimate look at both Hart the man, and the professional wrestling industry itself. Utterly compelling whether you're a fan of wrestling or not.
Wow this is a great DVD. ok a little bit of background. WWF Superstar Bret the Hitman Hart was on hiatus in mid 1996. During this time he negotiated with rival company WCW. He ended up turning down the WCW's millions to sign a huge mulitmillion dollar 10 year contract with the WWF.
For the next 12 months Brets character changed from good guy to bad guy and he lost a lot of his allure,the plan was in the long run to turn him back to a good guy but McMahon the chairman of WWF apporached Bret telling him that he could no longer honour the huge contract he had signed him too.
He cited "Financial Dire Straits" as the reason and suggested Bret contact WCW again and try to get the same deal. So Bret does this and gets a huge offer again and takes it. The problem is that Bret is still WWF champion and McMahon can't let him go to the competitor with his belt.
So the story of this DVD is how McMahon gets the belt from Bret , who is unwilling to drop the belt to a guy he hates in his home country of Canada where he is seen as a hero.
This stunning behind the scenes documentary is a brilliant look at the real life horror behind the curtain in Wrestling and it's stuffed full of great little nuggets that make this re-watchable.
I'd highly recommend this for all wrestling fans and even people who don't like wrestling just as a way to see that wrestling is more real than you think.
In the early 90's Brett 'Hitman' Hart was an absolute megastar in the world of American wrestling. He was an icon in the WWF, as the WWE was then called and not only were his skills phenomenal but his image was as cool as ice. He was a man who was idolised by millions of wrestling fans, so much so that The WWF and Hitman Hart were almost synonymous with each other.
Brett came from a wrestling family. His dad was once a top wrestler, his brother Owen Hart was also a big name in the WWF and his brothers in law, The British Bulldog and Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart were also biggish names in the same organisation. Wrestling was in his blood and there was little doubt he would ever be anything other than a wrestler.
At the height of his career he was approached by Paul Jay (the drector) about having a documentary film made about his life. The cameramen following him for a year and recording everything that happened, showing what a year in the life of a top wrestler is really like.
Hart agreed to this, as did Vince McMahon, the head of the family that runs WWF. Brett and McMahon presumably both seeing it as a great way of getting free promotion for both the company (at this time WWF still had competition in the wrestling world... WCW) and one of his biggest stars, something McMahon would eventually come to regret. The year in which the film company followed Hart turned out to be the year in which the 'father/son' relationship between the two men collapsed amongst turmoil and bitterness!
Brett was a hero to millions but McMahon wanted to big up his new young turk... Shawn Michaels, a cocky good looking American. Brett didn't want to be a 'heel' again (the wrestling term for the bad guy). He had been there and done that on his way to the top, in fact I first saw Hart as part of the 'nasty' Hart Foundation tag team with 'The Anvil' when they fought against The British Bulldogs on ITV, and had no interest in doing it again. In the end a compromise was agreed where Brett would become the patriotic Canadian he was and turn anti American. That way he could still be a hero to his fans in Canada but work as a 'heel' against Michaels.
Anyone who was watching WWF in the late 90's will remember what happened at the big pay per view in Canada where the Canadian hero, Brett, defended his WWF title against the Heartbreak Kid... Shawn Michaels.
Through sheer luck the cameras were on hand to document what went on in the lead up to the championship match and it makes a fascinating documentary to watch, at least it does if you have a passing interest in wrestling.
Wrestling with Shadows is the story of two men. The wrestler and the boss, both of whom want control, Hart of his 'character' and career (he had along term contract and creative control over his matches) and McMahon of what goes on in his business as he is ever searching for the new edge to keep his audience excited and to stay number one wrestling organisation in the US.
The clash between the two men that the film shows us is about the ideals, their moral outlook so to speak. Hart is a family man, a man of honour, an all around good guy. The persona that Brett has built over many years is one that has taken over his life. He doesn't like the way wrestling is becoming more risqué, more in your face and that the line between the good guys and the villains is becoming very blurred. He hates the way the heroes are becoming as violent and anti authority like as the villains.
Wrestling With Shadows is a documentary that would have been a fascinating insight into the closed world of wrestling, about how it works and the personalities involved, becomes instead, due to fortuitous timing, so much more than that. The timing involved means that WWS is there on the spot to record the relationship between hero and boss slowly but surely breaking down as they try to retain control over their own worlds.
If you have any passing interest in the wrestling business then this is possibly the best documentary I have seen about the whole phenomena. If you were a fan at the time of the infamous Hart/Michaels match up then this is a must see!