Review of the documentary “Episodes: Ukraine at the World Cup” / Episodes: Ukraine at the World CupMovie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

On Friday, June 14, the 17th European Football Championship started in Germany, and very soon the Ukrainian national team will play its first match at the tournament. At the beginning of the week, Netflix presented the documentary film “Ukraine at the Mundial”, which was shown exclusively in the Planet Kino cinema chain in April and is part of the documentary series “Episodes”, and is now available on streaming. In the review below we tell you why this nostalgic film is a great gift for all Ukrainian fans, especially those with experience.

Pros:

a fascinating nostalgic journey into the past, when the Ukrainian national team achieved its greatest success since independence;

Minuses:

minor technical roughness;

“Episodes: Ukraine at the World Cup” / Episodes: Ukraine at the World Cup

Genre documentary sports film
director Artem Grigoryan
Cast: Andrey Shevchenko, Alexander Shovkovsky, Artem Milevsky, Ruslan Rotan, Vladislav Vashchuk, Sergey Fedorov, Victor Vatsko, Igor Tsyganyk, Artem Frankov, Semyon Altman, Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, Alla Bublii
Netflix premiere
Year of manufacture 2024

In addition to “Ukraine at the Mundial,” the documentary series “Episodes” also includes the film “Shadow of Chernobyl,” dedicated to the history of the creation of the cult game STALKER, and the episode “Don’t Switch!” The KNIFE! Films studio worked on the creation of this project, which previously released the documentary series “Flash”, the film “Next” and the documentary film “Stories of Ukrainian IT”.

“Ukraine at the Mundial” is a kind of nostalgic journey into the distant past, when our team, for the first time in the history of independence, was able to overcome the curse of the play-offs and make it to the final part of the world football championship.

The authors of the film give a brief excursion into the history of the national team and remind that even during the time of the legendary Valery Lobanovsky, the team failed to overcome the barrier of the qualifying stage. Experienced fans probably remember how the slogan “Our goal is 2002” was eventually reworked, and remained a pipe dream.

In September 2003, the team was led by Oleg Blokhin and immediately surprised everyone with a loud statement that he planned to lead the team to the World Championship directly from first place in the group. And there, if you remember, there were serious opponents – strong Denmark, Turkey, with its crazy support in the stands, and the current European champion Greece. Later, Blokhin admitted to Viktor Vatsko that he was in vain to voice such an ambitious thesis. But who at that time could have imagined that this promise would be fulfilled?

The story about the national team and its most important game stages is supported by comments from direct participants in those events – Alexander Shovkovsky, Andrey Shevchenko, Ruslan Rotan, coach Semyon Altman, etc.; as well as famous football specialists and experts – commentators Viktor Vatsko and Igor Tsyganyk and the now deceased editor-in-chief of Football magazine Artem Frankov.

As Vatko noted, Ukraine’s entry into the 2006 World Cup caused real euphoria among Ukrainian fans. This wave of general joy and anticipation of the football holiday was picked up by our performers, from Yurkesh to Sashka Polozhinsky, using the simple rhyme “football-goal” everywhere. But the most interesting thing, of course, was listening to the players themselves.

For example, Alexander Shovkovsky recalls his thorny path as a member of the national team. In particular, how he was affected by the terrible mistake he made in the play-offs for qualifying for Euro 2000 with the Slovenes (how can one not remember the legendary “Sasha, where have you been”? from Alexander Zhurakhovsky). But then a triumphant rehabilitation took place – in the penalty shoot-out in the 2006 World Cup with Switzerland. And we took revenge on the Slovenians at the junction of Euro 2016.
Andrei Shevchenko also spoke about his impressions and emotions from that penalty shootout: we can find out what our star striker felt during the duel with the Swiss goalkeeper Zuberbühler. There was also a high probability that Shevchenko would not be able to play in the tournament due to an injury he received in one of the matches in the Italian Championship.

Of course, there was a mention of the historical confrontation at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium in October 1999, when, in front of a crowded stadium and Putin himself, Sheva epically buried the Russians’ hopes of participating in the European Championship. Filimonov’s fatal mistake and the confused reaction of commentator Gusev still warms the hearts of many Ukrainian fans.

While watching “Ukraine at the Mundial” you may notice that in many interviews the camera prefers a slightly strange, deliberately “wrong” position in relation to the narrator. For some reason, the cameraman especially experiments in the slot with Viktor Vatsko, when he is either somewhere very to the side of the frame, or even has his profile “facing” the viewer, and even the shooting is being done against the light.
In some places, a person speaks completely away from the camera, and the studio dubbing of certain interviews is too noticeable. Sometimes assistant head coach of Zenit St. Petersburg Tolik Timoshchuk flashes into the frame. But in general, these conventional roughnesses, forced or intentional, do not interfere with the comfortable perception of the narrative.

“Ukraine at the Mundial” is a fascinating and concentrated nostalgic journey into the past, which will be an excellent gift for all experienced fans. To those who, all these years, have painfully perceived the unfortunate defeats of our team and sincerely rejoiced at its strong-willed victories. Who almost lost consciousness when 21-year-old Milevsky performed “Panenka” at the 2006 World Cup, or who sincerely rejoiced at Sheva’s double against Sweden at the home Euro.

But now the country’s main team, led by the star of that legendary team Sergei Rebrov, is awaiting new tests at Euro 2024, which, like the fateful 2006 World Cup, is also taking place in Germany. At a time when every joyful moment is worth its weight in gold for all of us, I would like to wish our guys that Ukrainians will have as many reasons for football happiness this summer as possible.

For all fans of the national team, in addition to the therapeutic series “Ted Lasso,” we also recommend the following projects on YouTube:

  • Documentary film “Ukraine – Russia: Match of Life” on the Toronto Television channel, if you are interested not only in the sports, but also in the political component of the historical match of 1999;
  • Alexander Denisov’s program “The Game of Footballs” is an episode about that very game between Ukraine and the Russians, an episode about the 2006 Mundial, an episode about the reasons for the failure of the national team at Euro 2016.

Conclusion:

“Ukraine at the Mundial” is a kind of cast of a bygone era, which is so pleasant for every Ukrainian fan to remember.

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