The Oscar-winning documentary, Icarus, is the story of how one man’s personal experiment evolved into a political image war with The Russian Government. The creator, Bryan Fogel, is an amateur bicyclist and director who was looking into the world of performance-enhancement drugs. He wanted to see if he could get away with doping himself during a race. His logic was that if he could dope and get away with it, any other cyclist could too.
His experiment needed an overseer who understood everything about the testing of doping. This brought Fogel into contact with the director of Russia’s Olympic anti-doping laboratory, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov. Months into the experiment, the two become close and began visiting each other in LA and Moscow.
The documentary picks up when Dr. Rodchenkov and the Russia state are accused of state-sponsored doping during the Winter Olympics of 2014 in Sochi, Russia. With his life in danger, Dr. Rodchenkov leaves for the U.S. to bunk up with Fogel. The pair decides to come out with the truth about what happened. It was Rodchenkov’s word against the Russian state’s.
Now, I don’t usually watch documentaries but what I loved about Icarus is that it didn’t seem like a typical documentary while watching it. There was suspense, but the real meat of the story was filmed in live time while these accusations were blowing up. The quality with which Fogel designed each scene, including the buildup and the suspense, made the movie seem like we were there with him and Rodchenkov in the LA apartment, rather than listening to him recount the story years later.
I guarantee this film is worth two hours of your time and I’ve got good news… it’s a Netflix original.
COVER PHOTO: Film Daily