This may very well be the best documentary that I have ever seen. I first saw the film a month ago, and after seeing it again, I am more convinced than ever that it is a must-see; not only for wrestling fans, but fans of film, period. To be sure, you'll probably get more out of this movie if you are familiar with Bret Hart, or the WWF, or the now infamous Montreal double-cross, but the filmmakers succeeded in making this an enjoyable experience for viewers whether they watch wrestling or not. This film gave me a greater appreciation for wrestling, increased my already high regard for documentaries, and cemented me as a life-long fan of the Hitman. I can only hope that potential viewers of this film can remove any pre-conceived notions that they might have about wrestling, for this is truly a film that deserves to be seen.
Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows
Biography / Documentary / Sport
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The life and career of Bret Hart is recounted from his youth, through the start of his career, his years in the WWF, up to the present day. Bret discusses the high and lows of his career and shows the world of professional wrestling from a wrestler's point of view.—A. Stooge
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"The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be"
This documentary is a must see
Wrestling with Shadows opens a wrestling fan's eyes to the dark side of wrestling. You will see a side that you thought never existed. This documentary will show you what goes on behind the scenes and show you what kind of people work in "the circus". After seeing this, I see that Bret Hart is one of the few honest men left in wrestling. You will see Bret is just a man trying to make a living in the world of wrestling. One day, the world of wrestling changed around him. The sport he loved as a child and grew up in has changed around him. It's almost sad and disgusting. This documentary just goes to show that, sadly, there is no more room left for honest wrestlers like Bret Hart. Everyone is looking for the gimmick. Somehow, Bret doesn't fit in anymore. Even in the WCW. You have to feel for people like Bret and other wrestlers like him. Wrestling is changing for the worse, and the people involved in it are not the superhuman beings one may think they are. They are just people like you and I. Watch this documentary to see the story of one of those people. You will never look at wrestling in the same way again.
Wrestling with Shadows is a Grand Slam. A must-watch.
Filmed at the peak of the Monday night ratings war, the movie takes an inside look at the final year of Bret Hart's career with the wrestling promotion, The World Wrestling Federation, (now World Wrestling Entertainment). Without spoiling the movie, too much, this documentary directed by Paul Jay not only shows an insight into wrestling's biggest star at the time, but also the wrestling business itself and the most controversial non scripted legit incident coined simply as 'the Montreal Screw Job' at the 1997's 'Survivor Series' PPV. While, today, most wrestlers are more open about talking the inside secrets about the business; at the time, the professional wrestling organizations worked to maintain the illusion of story lines and characters, in a moral code matter called 'kayfabe'. Because of this, any performer that broke character, would reach far-reaching ramifications. So, this beg the question, how did, director Jay and his crew, was given unprecedented access toward, this secretly world. Well, it's because the owner of the WWF, Vince McMahon was fighting against an uphill battle against his competitor at the time, World Championship Wrestling, which already raid some of his company's best talents. He couldn't lose, anymore top stars, jumping ship in 1996, so he mostly agree to his stars demands, when negotiated new contracts. One of those, demands, was for filmmaker, Jay to follow Hart, and his family, around WWF events, because Bret wanted a documentary highlight the legendary of Hart Wrestling Family for their native Calgary fans. Because of this, it was the first time, in forever, outside cameras were allow to film backstage since the mid-1980s. However, what Jay and Hart didn't know at the time, is how bad, WWF's financial were, at the time, and how McMahon couldn't live up to what Hart was demanding from his contract. It was here, where the movie change its direction and structure from showing the achievements of the Hart Family, to them, focusing on the backstage politics of Hart. Accounting to the film's extras, Hart mentions that filming had actually concluded prior to 1997's 'Survivor Series' and Bret had suggested to Jay that he may wish to bring the crew to the event, as to document his final match with the WWF. Surprising, for both of them, this added footage became the key ingredient, needed for this film. Without that dramatic climax, I really doubt, the film would had work. However, there were a few criticism, over the rights of that footage. Since, filming rights has ended, before that PPV. McMahon felt entitled for that footage, as he has claim Jay, broke their contract. He sued him, as a result. The director went on to state that WCW has contacted him, not only to offered to pay for the lawsuit, but also offered a PPV deal for the film and long term distribution on the Turner network. Once McMahon became aware of this, Vince back down, and allow Jay to use stock footage, and the use of the names and likeness of the other wrestlers featured in the film. Yet, McMahon didn't go all, quietly, as he used some of his reputation to kill some of the distribution. Having face, a backlash, with Jay, McMahon try to couther the negative prints, by allowing another documentary to be made, backstage, 1999's 'Beyond the Mat'. However, that film also made the WWF look bad. Because of that, most wrestling documentaries under the WWF banner, has been produced by WWF/E Home Video since then. While it's easy to view the film and simply think of Bret as the good guy and Vince as the bad guy; I think you would had to understand, a deeper sense of Vince & Bret's perspective. Both men are very prideful, very difficult to work with, and equally as stubborn. You see this, in a way, how Hart outright lies to the camera, about being able to work with anybody and not injuring anybody on purpose, despite having problems, with previous wrestlers like Bad News Brown, Jerry Lawler, Ric Flair and Dino Bravo in the past that resulted in real-life injuries. Then, there is the claim that he never slept with anybody, during his first marriage, which according to his later book, that he indeed cheated on his then-wife, Julie. Kinda hypocritical, for a man that claims that the "WWF Attitude" marketing brand which relies on an emphasis on sex, extreme violence, and the replacing of heroic wrestling characters with disaffected anti-heroes, was the worst thing to happen to pro-wrestling. Hart might be the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be! Yet, he's kinda a jerk. This documentary kinda shows that. Yes, I'm a huge fan of the man's work, but I got a problem, on how little, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, & Davey Boy Smith are given to talk, seeing how the documentary was originally about them. Yes, I like the rare look at Hart's family life, but it does focus on Hart's business problems a little too much that it became somewhat annoying, even if it made Hart, a bigger hero, than he was, without it. For Vince, this movie was the best thing to happen to him, as he was indeed able to use the real-life heat, from the screw-job to usher a great storyline with him as an on screen villain. While, most people generally believed that Bret Hart was indeed screw-over, still, there are others that felt that this was truly a work of storytelling fiction and Hart was in on it. Nevertheless, based on this documentary, there is just way too many inconsistent to believe that was the case. Overall: Vince and Bret would ultimately buried the hatchet in 2002 and on aired in 2010, but this documentary would always be a great time capsule essential documentary for both wrestling and non-wrestling fans alike. A tragic betrayal film at its best.