Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz is not really a soccer movie. This 1974 film from the East German director Konrad Wolf is about a sculptor (Kurt Böwe) in a small town, who gets a commission to create a monument for the local football stadium. Since the artist is fairly well known, the local authorities hope such a public artwork will help increase game attendance.Continue reading “‘The Naked Man on the Sports Field’ (1974)”
The Keeper is based on the young life of ManCity goalkeeper Bert Trautmann, whose worldwide fame is due to having weathered the last 20 minutes of the 1956 FA Cup Final with a broken neck.
But fittingly, that incident is a smaller part of the movie, because the real story is how a Nazi soldier and POW became a First Division GK in English football in just a few years after the end of World War 2.
The film gives insight into life in a British POW camp, where Trautmann and other soldiers were re-educated and put to work. There may have been 1,026 such POW camps in Britain, holding 400,000 captives who were eventually repatriated.
In the story, which may be quite fictionalized, merchant Jack Friar (John Henshaw) manages St Helens Town FC and spots Trautmann (David Kross) in the POW camp, stopping penalties to win cigarettes. Trying to avoid his club’s relegation, Friar induces the camp commander to let him borrow the GK to work in his shop and, on the sly, play football. There is anti-German sentiment from the players, fans and Friar’s family, but Trautmann’s goodness and footballing ability win them over.
At the same time, having been in the Hitler youth corp and later won an Iron Cross, Trautmann faces up to what his country has done. He also faces the guilt of knowing that he could have been a better human. The romance between Trautmann and Friar’s headstrong daughter Margaret (Freya Mavor) plays a large part of the story, and her acceptance of him is emblematic of a country trying to heal.
The second part of the story is Trautmann’s move to ManCity and his performance in the FC Cup. He overcomes the antipathy of fans, especially the large contingent of Jewish ManCity supporters. The third part of the story is the tragedy that befalls the Trautmanns just a few months after the neck injury.
The Importance of Trautmann’s story
I was able to attend a JCC zoom talk with Bavarian Writer-Director Marcus H Rosenmüller, in which he talked about what he was trying to do. The story was presented to Rosenmüller 10 years earlier. To him, a driving force was for Germans to talk about the war, something the German people could not bring themselves to confront for decades.
After interviewing Trautmann over 10 days, Marcus decided there are different types of Nazis. Some just kill cold-bloodedly, and others go along and then realize what is happening but hide it. This is where the shame comes from, when we don’t see people as humans and we just follow along and don’t fight for Democracy.
Last year and this, I missed several opportunities to watch The Keeper at Jewish film festivals and online JCC streaming events. I was surprised to be able to find and enjoy it on Kanopy through my library. And this is my point, that this film should not be relegated to ethnic film festivals. The Keeper has valuable messages for this time in our lives, especially for Americans. Doing one’s duty or being a good soldier is not enough. As in #BlackLivesMatter, Silence is Violence.
Other notes about the production
Although The Keeper is Rosenmüller’s first English language film, the first part could easily be mistaken for a typically excellent BBC production, with an emphasis on authenticity. While that part of this British-German production was shot in Scotland, the Manchester scenes were filmed in Bavaria to satisfy a grant requirement. They had to make a Bavarian stadium look like Manchester and use Bavarian footballers (one of them a bit chubby). The soccer is very well done.
Scotsman Gary Lewis plays ManCity manager Jock Thompson. Gary Lewis is probably most recognizable for playing the dad in Billy Elliot, but I noticed that he has acted in 4 soccer movies on my site: The Keeper, Goal!, Joyeux Noel, The Match, plus My Name is Joe.
Lastly, I found it rather interesting that most of the reviews of this film tend to focus on Trautmann’s career and the neck injury that made him famous. After doing some research, I became very unsure how fictionalized the first part of this film is. So my goal now is to read Catrine Clay’s book on Trautmann’s Journey and get a better view of the facts on being a German POW in the UK, and how Trautmann really became a GK. Isn’t it interesting what you can learn from soccer movies?
7 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 7
The actress Vivica A. Fox has had 2 key roles that convey strength or a killer instinct (Independence Day and Kill Bill). She has leveraged these traits to produce a series of 14 “Wrong” movies for Lifetime TV, of which The Wrong Student is the 2nd film.Continue reading “Just say No to ’The Wrong Student’ (2017)”
I watched Meninos de Kichute on TubiTV and was surprised to find such a well-crafted film that I had never heard of. Set in 1975, the story shows life in a small Brazilian city, where for men a status car is a Dodge Dart or a Karmann Ghia, and for boys, it is a pair of soccer cleats known as kichute.Continue reading “‘Meninos de Kichute’ (2010) an engaging look back at Brazilian life”
Jayasurya plays V.P. Sathyan, Captain of the Indian National Team in the 1980s, who committed suicide in 2006 at age 41. First-time Writer-Director Prajesh Sen tells the story of Sathyan’s career, which should have been more recognized and rewarded.Continue reading “‘Captain’ (2018) belongs in my list of Amazon films not worth your time”
When this Netflix original first pops up on your TV, the upper left corner warns “sex, nudity, language, smoking”. That warning is also an able synopsis of this Italian hooligan movie.Continue reading “‘Ultras’ (2020) sex nudity language smoking and mindless threatening”
The problem with Shooting for Socrates is that the football is really a backdrop for writing a feel good story about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. And while sport as metaphor is the motivation for many soccer movies, in this case, the film doesn’t find its chemistry and feels like oil and water. Categorized as both drama and comedy, the film feels like neither.Continue reading “It’s better to pass than to try ‘Shooting for Socrates’ (2014)”
Línea de Cuatro might be an unpalatable Argentine version of Diner. Four men in their 30s get together to watch the WC 2014 final between Argentina and Germany. They haven’t been together in the 4 years since their 5th comrade Sebastian killed himself.Continue reading “‘Línea de Cuatro’ (2016) is difficult to digest”
Bigil was one of the top Indian moneymakers in 2019, and deservedly so. It wins the box office battle on the shoulders of a high powered star who leads across multiple fronts: drama, romance, football, martial arts action, music videos, and supporting strong females.Continue reading “‘Bigil’ (2019) a highly entertaining football film in any language”
Jada is an uncommon mix of soccer, drama, romance, comedy, and suspense. Some reviewers deem it a confused mess from first-time Director Kumaran. But if you go along for the ride, there is a lot of entertainment value in this multi-faceted football film from India. And if you’re shut in, it will occupy 2 hours and 12 minutes of your endless day.Continue reading “‘Jada’ (2019) soccer and suspense in Chennai”
A period drama about football is unique. A well-crafted tale in this time of pestilence is a joy and a comfort. The English Game, how football became the people’s game, is elegant soap opera and luscious escapism to a simpler time. Three nights in a row, to close out my shelter-in-place day, I self-administered dollops of this Netflix TV series and then slept deeply, sans souci.Continue reading “Why I loved ‘The English Game’ (2020)”
The footballing film Egaro (এগারো) takes place in British India in 1911. Subjugated by the English, Bengali natives are second-class citizens in their own country. Some try to succeed by working within the British system, while some are beaten and murdered by police. Some rebel with acts of terrorism.Continue reading “‘Egaro’ (2011) a Bengali team chooses football over terrorism”
Sometimes a drama can reveal more about society’s problems than can a documentary. From its Amazon Prime description, it might not catch your eye that, unlike all the other movies on this topic, Boisko Bezdomnych is a dramatic feature film. The idea for the film arose from a Polish team going to the Homeless World Cup.Continue reading “‘Boisko Bezdomnych’ (2008): a fictional tale of a homeless World Cup team”
Open Up to Me is a bit of a mind-bending movie that explores issues of sexuality. I consider it a football film even though the soccer connection is a little weak, as the football provides the normalcy in the story.Continue reading “Was ‘Open Up to Me’ (2013) ahead of its time?”
Behind the benign title of Lost in Africa is a thriller that embodies every mother’s worst nightmare: her child vanishes. It’s not really a soccer movie as much as it is a reflection of the hard and dangerous life in Kiera, a Kenyan shanty town.Continue reading “‘Lost in Africa’ (2010) doesn’t flinch”