More people should watch this totally heartbreaking documentary on Netflix
Netflix has an incredible amount of sports documentaries in its back catalogue.
Untold, a series of immaculate features on the weirdest and most incredible stories in sport over the past few decades, is at the top of the heap. But there is one under-watched documentary that I rarely hear about. And they should, because it’s amazing.
Lasting an accessible 40 minutes, The Speed Cubers is a barely-long short documentary about speed cubing, the act of solving different types of Rubik’s Cubes as quickly as possible.
Speed cubing is mind-boggling. Most people would struggle to figure out a 3x3x3 Rubik’s Cube in hours if challenged, but the best can solve them in seconds. The Speed Cubers explores this subculture, focusing on the stories of two of the fastest in the world, the legendary Feliks Zemdegs and the new king of speed cubing, Max Park.
In some ways Zemdegs is the Roger Federer of the Rubik’s Cubes. Although every speed cubing record he held has been broken, he is widely regarded as the greatest of all time, having set as many as 121 world records and winning the speed cubing world championship twice. , in 2013 and 2015.
Zemdegs is the hero of Parks, who now, in 2022, has broken nearly every record held by Zemdegs. Now 20, Park was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism when he was two years old. After his mother gave him a Rubik’s Cube to help develop his motor skills, Parks quickly became obsessed with solving all kinds of cubes. Through his participation in speed cubing competitions, Max not only found his passion, he found a way to grow socially and make some great friends in the process.
What could have easily been a standard bog story about a once-legendary figure passing the torch eventually evolves into something much deeper. Not only are Felix and Max friends, but Felix is something of a role model for Park — not just in the developing art of speed cubing, but in how to handle himself socially.
Zemdegs’ delicate interactions with Park and his family are at the heart of this documentary, and they are beautiful to watch. Especially as Zemdegs grapples with the challenge of no longer being at the top of the hobby he has dedicated his life to perfecting.
It’s comforting stuff. Despite its short length, The Speed Cubers serves as a fantastical portrait of two very different individuals, both relentlessly engaged in the same pursuit. Beyond that, it’s also a story about the true value of sport and the bond between those who compete. Only one of these two incredible human beings can be the best speed cuber on the planet, but in the grand scheme of things, does it matter who? The Speed Cubers is a story about one of the most fascinating subcultures on planet Earth, but it’s also a story about what it means to be a good person. And a good friend.