As the Euro 2016 competition continues and hopes could be crushed while dreams achieved, Musings… presents a few football films for your consideration.
Gregory’s Girl (1980)
Directed by Bill Forsyth and starring John Gordon Sinclair in the title role, the film features Gregory being sidelined in the role of goalkeeper by new star striker Dorothy. Hormones take over the school football team as Gregory falls for the confident, self-assured new girl who is the complete opposite of our naive and fumbling protagonist. This easygoing film features strong female characters, useless adults and bumbling boys in an effectionate, heart-warming tale of life taking over football.
Escape to Victory (1981)
John Huston’s film brings together two seemingly unrelated entities: association football and a prisoner of war camp as Michael Caine’s ex-Pro recruits allied PoWs, Pele, Bobby Moore and Sylvester Stallone to take on a the German national team in Nazi-occupied Paris. Often ridiculed but thoroughly entertaining, the film is a rosuing tale of spirit and teamwork as it builds to an brilliant climatic finale which includes penalties and overhead kicks. Implausible but fun.
Bend it Like Beckham (2002)
An amusing romantic sports film that features female football, a young Keira Knightley and themes of race and sexuality, this little British gem is a classic family movie that entertains in different ways. No David Beckham though.
In Jafar Panahi’s Offside football is all about exclusion, as a group of girls attempt to get into the men-only stadium to see Iran’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Bahrain. Shot mostly at Tehran’s Azadi stadium on the day of the match, Panahi captures the atmosphere of a defining moment of mass emotion, and the inherent comedy of having to miss it completely. Political yet funny, this wonderful little film is full of passion and heart.
The Miracle of Bern (2003)
One of the biggest shocks in World Cup history is now known as ‘the miracle of Bern’ – the name for West Germany’s triumph in the 1954 finals against the much favoured Hungary. Director Sönke Wortmann filters his nostalgic vision through the innocence of 11-year-old Matthias, boot polisher to local footballer Helmut Rahn, who would go on to score the winning goal. However Matthias’s happy childhood is thrown into turmoil when his estranged father returns from a Soviet Prisoner of War camp – a larger symbol for the collective trauma of a nation. It’s a film full of touching and inspiring moments on a personal and national scale which shows how football can be full of joy.
The Damned United (2009)
The story of Brian Clough’s 44 day stint as manager of Leeds United features Michael Sheen in the lead roll as Clough alienates his players and the board. Based on the book by David Pearce, this entertaining film deals with success, jealousy and failure and caused some controversy with its highly fictionalised account of Clough’s short stint in charge.