Legend Number 17 (Легенда №17) is a 2013 Russian biopic about Russian/Soviet hockey player Valeriy Kharlamov (Валерий Харламов). He was one of the best-known Soviet hockey players and was recognized worldwide. He participated and was successful in several Olympics and other Soviet and international competitions. He died in 1981 at the age of 33 in a car accident.
The film itself tells the story of his early years, before he became a hockey phenomenon. It depicts the beginning of his career and the start of his name recognition as “number 17,” and then the famous, life-changing game in Montreal during the USSR–Canada Super Series, when Kharlamov won glory for himself, his team, and his country.
The film was outstandingly successful in Russia, and was praised highly. It won an impressive six Golden Eagles, including for best film, best screenplay, best supporting actor (Vladimir Menshov), and best supporting actress (Nina Usatova). It was also nominated for best director (Nikolai Lebedev), best actor (for both Danila Kozlovsky, who played Kharlamov, and Oleg Menshikov, who played Kharlamov’s trainer, Anatoliy Tarasov). Despite its apparent cinematic successes, Ruskino critized it for being “propagandistic and patriotic” and idealizing its hero, but the reviewer also wrote that it was clear that the filmmakers were passionate about their subject, and that the film would appeal to anyone who cared about this country. Rossiyskaya Gazeta saw the film as less about hockey than about the process of building character, and saw the patriotic aspect as a positive: it presented a side of Russia free from politics, a more sincere version of the country that all Russians could support.
Director: Nikolai Lebedev
Stars: Danila Kozlovskiy, Oleg Menshikov, Svetlana Ivanova, Vladimir Menshov, Aleksandr Lobanov, Sergey Genkin, Nina Usatova
Production company: Kanal Rossiya, Studio TriTe
Box office take: $29.5 million