Friday, 14 September 2007

Wrestling With Shadows - DVD Review

In 1997, writer and director Peter Jay was given unlimited access to one of the greatest wrestlers in history as he went through the most troublesome time of his career. Wrestling With Shadows takes a look at the life and career of Bret “Hitman” Hart, at a time when both his life and the entire wrestling business were going through drastic changes.
At a time when WCW was pulling ahead in the television ratings, Bret showed a tremendous amount of loyalty by signing a twenty year contract with the WWF, only for Vince McMahon to inform him a few months later that he could no longer afford to keep his end of the deal.

Jay captures Bret’s growing frustrations with the wrestling business perfectly, as in an attempt to keep up with WCW, the WWF took on a more adult theme, and the line between good and evil became increasingly blurred, and anti-heroes such as Steve Austin took on the role that Bret himself had played for years.

But it’s the events surrounding Bret’s departure and the Montreal screw job that make this compelling viewing. As Bret struggled to come to terms with the end of his fifteen year tenure, we see the events unfold as McMahon ensured that Bret didn’t leaving the WWF as champion.

Almost nine years after these events unfolded, this documentary left me wondering about Bret’s attitude towards the wrestling business at the time. While it’s obvious that Bret was very much in the old school mould during his career, was Bret unwilling to change with the times, or was the wrestling business, and in particular, the WWF, just changing too fast for him.

This DVD features an added bonus, interviews with Bret and Jay, conducted after the documentary was originally released.

Wrestling With Shadows will be remembered as a valuable item in the documentation of the history of professional wrestling. The events surrounding the 1997 Survivor Series in Montreal will remain controversial for years to come, and if you want to see how they unfolded, with a first hand account from one of the men involved, then I recommend watching this film.

This DVD can be purchased online at www.silvervision.co.uk.