Movie Review On The Map – Watch Sports History in the Making

 

On The Map - Hey Jude Productions

 

I am not a basketball fan, but On The Map, a fascinating history of the Israeli Maccabi team winning the 1977 European Cup Championship against Russia, Italy and Spain - the reigning leaders- is written and directed by Israeli documentarian Dani Menkin od Hey Jude Productions.

 

On The Map - photo from Hey Jude Productions

Starting out as an underdog team, given no credence by any of the sports legends, the film is told through the eyes of six American basketball players who for a variety reasons chose to join the Tel Aviv Maccabi team, to shape the team that beat Russia -CSKA Moscow (nicknamed "the Red Army).   The tight game - won by only one point - had everyone on edge.

 

The sports world experienced shock when the Maccabi team beat Real Madrid.  it was only then they realized they finally had a real chance to achieve success.

 

On The Map - photo from Hey Jude Productions

Despite Israeli wins, the Russian refused to play against the Israeli team since they refused to recognize Israel as a nation, but eventually settled on a game in a small Brussels town. 

 

Watching the game and the differences in play you can see how the Israelis used team work to achieve their goal whereas the Italians seem to concentrate on individual players.

 

On The Map - photo from Hey Jude Productions

The win gives Israel not only a place in sports history but in Tal Brody's words - placed the country "on the map  not just in sports but in everything."  It was also during these crucial historical times that the 1973 Yom Kippur War has devastated the country and the Entebbe rescue had revitalized it.    Even the night of the win, Israel faced its own "Watergate" when Prime Minister Rabin resigned after the country realized his wife had an American bank account (considered a conflict of interest then.)

 

Tal Brody - On The Map - photo from Hey Jude Productions

Much of the story focuses on the  American athlete Tal Brody, who although having been drafted by the NBA, decided to move to Israel and work with the sport there.  He's soon joined by others as Lou Silver,  Eric Minkin,  Bob Griffin, Jim Boatwright and New Jersey Aulcie Perry, who eventually converts to Judaism as a result of his involvement with the team.

 

Tal, whose dying father in New Jersey, had urged him as Captain of the team to return to the game, flew in at the last moment to save the situation. 

 

On The Map - photo from Hey Jude Productions

Some interviews include Bill Walton (Basketball Hall of Fame), Michael Oren (US Ambassador to Israel), and Russian dissident Natan Sharansky.  

 

The 85 minute film done mainly in English but with a few subtitles, opened in Los Angeles in November25, 2016, and in New York  on December 9, 2016.   Executive produced by Nancy Spielberg of Playmount Productions and Roberta Grossman of Katahdin Productions.   The trailer can be seen on line.

 

On The Map - photo from Hey Jude Productions

The story tells not only of a sports golden victory but of one for a downtrodden people who despite all odds managed to rise to the top.   You don't need to understand basketball to like the movie, though a little knowledge helps.   It's a good gift for anyone into sports or history.

 

 

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