FC Barcelona is “Més que un Club” – More than a Club. And if you had any doubt, you should watch the documentary Barça Dreams. At 2 hours, this is probably the longest soccer documentary I’ve ever seen. Writer-Director Jordi Llompart covers the club’s history and culture, which has fermented and evolved since 1899. There is a lot of ground to cover, and it goes way beyond the pitch at Camp Nou, their fútbol stadium.
If you can’t watch the movie, check out the club’s Decade by Decade page. This page represents Barça’s periods of success and Golden Ages, but also their repetitive periods of mediocrity and even failure. The film admits that when a big name player came in, winning was usually short-lived. After 1-2 seasons, the star would become complacent and skip practice, and Barça would soon have to find a replacement big name. However, the current team with Messi et al has not suffered complacency but has consistently sought excellence.
The film interweaves interviews of current and past players with many great FCB goals. Johan Cruyff is the one of the most interesting; he shares his memories of his fantastic goal and also explains the club’s culture from both player and coach viewpoints. (Sadly, he was diagnosed with lung cancer around the time the film was released, and he died 6 months later.)
Greatness begins at La Masia
We learn that much of today’s success started with Cruyff’s founding in 1979 of La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy and boarding school. This enabled the club to develop and educate players from a wider geographic area, starting at age 13. Players like Messi, Gerard Piqué, and Xavi Hernandez learned to play Total Football at La Masia, as did Pep Guardiola. However, the film also acknowledges that the greatest change agents in the club — players who fundamentally advanced how the club played — have originated from the outside: Kubala, Cruyff, Ronaldinho, and Messi.
Barça and Catalan
Director Llompart illuminates the relationship between Barça and Catalan: when Barça wins, Catalan wins. To the world, Barça represents Catalan and its fight for independence. The struggles of Catalan are mirrored in Barça’s rivalry with Real Madrid, the team of the Spanish government. Jose Mourinho becomes a perfect example of the unfair practices against the team, as Mourinho’s teams play dirty to win.
In researching the club, I learned that the board and presidency are rife with intrigue, which is not addressed in the film. It seems that the team and players continue their excellence despite a rotating circus in the boardroom. I’ll leave you to read about that on your own, just google “Joan Laporta” and “Sandro Rossell”. But try to watch this film first, because it lays out all the history and background for you, so that you understand what makes Barça so great and so enduring.
In Spanish, Catalan and English, with English sub-titles
8 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 8