The Ice King Review
Ice skating is a beautiful form of artistry, involving intricate movements whilst trying to maintain your balance and effortlessly glide across the ice. Many art forms have a number of innovators, incredibly talented people who change the game and set the standards for future artists. For example, Fred Astaire is still regarded as the greatest Hollywood dancer of all time because of his uniquely elegant style, inspiring other greats like Gene Kelly. If there was ever a person that could be labelled as Britain's "ice skating version of Fred Astaire", it would be John Curry.
The Ice King documents the two main aspects of Curry's life: his career and his personal life. As a gay man, Curry struggled to deal with the homophobia that was prevalent during the 1960s and 1970s, being outed by a tabloid newspaper before the 1976 World Championships, potentially destroying the future of his career. However, Curry was deeply loved, to the point where his sexuality didn't matter to the majority of people. His graceful, effortless skating techniques were unlike anything the world had seen before, especially from a male performer. He was criticised for not acting masculine, but Curry refused to care and did things the way he wanted to. He was not only a great inspiration for figure skaters, but also for anyone who felt like an outsider and was struggling to come to terms with who they really were.
This is a gorgeous documentary, paying a beautiful tribute to a man that people may not be aware of, especially those who don't follow figure skating (including myself). You can't help but admire Curry's precision and delicacy; the documentary shows us clips of some of his most famous performances and explains how they stood out from anything that came before it. The Ice King is put together extremely well, using voiceovers from people Curry was close to and an actor reading out some intimate letters Curry wrote to family members and friends. The whole thing flows tremendously and provides an interesting insight into what was occurring during Curry's life, such as the AIDS epidemic - Curry subsequently contracted the disease after he was diagnosed with HIV in 1987.
While John Curry was extremely talented, his life was tragic in some ways. His father did not fully encourage his son during his youth; Curry initially wanted to be involved with ballet, but his father refused, thinking it was too feminine. He only allowed his son to take part in the world of ice skating because it was accepted as an Olympic sport. It's quite sad to think about; Curry had all of this magnificent ability, yet his father's ignorance left him with untapped potential. Luckily, Curry made all of his skating routines incredibly balletic, and therefore unwilling to let his father crush his dreams.
As upsetting as The Ice King can be, it is still extremely uplifting and celebrates the life of an extraordinary artist that many still look up to now. This documentary breezes through his intriguing life wonderfully and gives you a sense of what Curry was like off the rink. Even people who have no interest in figure skating will discover something that fascinates them in this lovely tribute to a risk-taker.