Growing up, we have all, at one point of time, been thrust with a Rubik’s cube by our parents. Some of us have tried to solve it and left it midway, while others have gone all the way — the latter category can also become speedcubers (people with a special ability to solve a cube in seconds, with their hands, feet and, hell, even when they are blindfolded).
This niche sport has many followers around the world. In fact, there are so many that there are world championships built around the Rubik’s Cube where people of all ages take part. Now there is even a Netflix documentary on it called The Speedcubers.
Unlike other documentaries, The Speedcubers takes us through the world of passionate cubers from the perspectives of two champions – Feliks Zemdegs and Max Park. Instead of going into the nitty-gritty of the sport, how it started, techniques, the math behind it (if there is any), rules of championships, etc, it delves into the lives of the two people ahead of the WCA World Championship 2019.
We meet Feliks, a 20-something guy from Sydney who showed a knack for the Rubik’s cube from childhood and went on to create records and then break his own records in Australia. Interspersed with clips from new coverage on Feliks, we also meet his parents who share how they were initially surprised by their son’s talent with what was supposed to be a toy.
It’s unlike the household of Max Park, an autistic 17-year-old for whom the Rubik’s Cube became a tool that developed his motor and social skills. Struggling to understand him, his mother gave him a cube to see what would happen. And lo, behold, he started to go and break Felik’s records.
What’s heartwarming about the documentary is that there is no negativity here, it’s really all heart. Felik’s and Max’s camaraderie when they meet at competitions is obvious. Max looks up to Felik and the older cuber ably takes up the mantle of guiding and encouraging Max.
For newbies to the world of speedcubing, it’s a good introduction to how infectious the excitement is at a typical tournament filled with hardcore Cube fans, one also gets to hear interesting lingo which is nerdy, yes, but still interesting to learn. Despite the fierce competition, The Speedcubers is a story that will melt your heart and make you shed a few tears.
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