Tired of teaching the Cold War? Need an example to enhance the reading? Netflix has an excellent documentary regarding the end of the Cold War. The Other Dream Team is the story behind the Lithuania basketball team and the 1992 Olympics. The movie documents how a country of 3 million rallied around independence against a powerhouse known as the former Soviet Union.
The documentary provides a backdrop of the history of the Cold War and how it impacted Eastern Europe. A great example of living history that a textbook can not provide. The documentary is also an example how hope was eternal at the end of the 1980's that the Cold War would end, and a generation that lived under the rule of the Iron Curtain would soon have freedom.
What makes this documentary so special is the Lithuania basketball story. Each member recounts how they won gold in 1988 in Seoul Korea for the Soviet Union. The pressures they endured and the tyranny of the Olympics being politicized by the Soviets. The first-hand accounts of abuse of players helps the viewer understand what life was like under the old Soviet Union.
The 1988 team consisted mostly of Lithuanian players, and their resentment of not playing for their own country can be redeemed by newly found independence. The journey from 1988 to 1992 is the backdrop for most of the story.
Finally, what makes the documentary special in my mind is the backdrop of the story of the Grateful Dead coming to the aid of the team. Truly, a demonstration how peoples half way across the world can make a difference. I strongly believe kids watching the documentary will identify with this part of the story. Overall, this documentary is an excellent teaching tool for the importance of history, civil disobedience, and human rights.