Watching RISE

Ellen wanted to see this film, shown in selected theaters around the country one time only this past Thursday evening. The format and venues are similar to the opera broadcasts from New York seen in the same theaters, and it began and ended with a live broadcast from New York hosted by skating commentator Peter Carruthers, and NBC’s Matt Lauer, among others. Between was the approximately one hour documentary film about the 1961 tragic air crash that took the lives of the entire US figure skating team on the way to the world competition for that year, along with the top coaches of the time, and many family members.

This is a story that has been covered briefly many times in figure skating broadcasts, so I was aware of it in general, but the documentary does a great job of bringing the people involved to life through period footage, remembrances of survivors and family members, and commentary from contemporary and current figure skating champions, including Peggy Fleming, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano and Evan Lysacek. Very well done, and well worth seeing.

The entire experience was interesting, and the live broadcast generally entertaining, though not a lot was said about the tragedy that wasn’t already in the film. The skating champs did talk about their own lives and families some, which was interesting. I’m guessing this venue was chosen for the film because it isn’t long enough for a theatrical release (and perhaps didn’t have a distribution deal), and the filmmakers couldn’t find a home for it on TV. Sales at theaters around the country must have been good enough, because a second showing has been scheduled for March 7th. Check theaters near you or online for tickets. Recommended if you’re a skating fan, or know one.

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