I saw The Miracle Of Bern on Saturday. Yes I know it is a film and that is what Do You See? is for but it was about football so it fits here nicely. And note, I saw it at 3pm, traditional kick off time. Except we had the ads and trailers first which you do not get at the football. Anyway the film is a German retelling of the 1954 cup final which West Germany won against most odds (the odds being that Hungary had not lost a game in four years).
Many reviews ay that the football is some of the best ever shown on film. They are sadly incorrect. There is precious little football at all, the only extended sequences being in the final itself. How one would liked to have seen much more of a representation of Germany getting spanked 8-3 by Hungary in an earlier round, just to help build the tension for the final. And this is a jingoistic, hero-worship affair so even the play we do get to see is full of silky skills, rather than the more tradional opinion of the film – which is the German’s kicked the Hungarians all over the park (football – its a mans game etc etc).
Teh problem the film has is trying to use the game as a metaphor for post-war Germany. It does not work well as a metaphor, so they also tell a parallel story of a football mad kids father returning from a Russian P.O.W. camp. These scenes are good in a predictable way but dovetail poorly into the football bits. And they are also the justification for us not seeing the games. In 1954 German very few people had televisions and therefore got results from the radio, newspapers or (nicely done in one scene) carrier pigeons.
The problem with the football scenes is one most football movies have. We have a pictoral representation of football already, whether from TV or watching in the ground. The TV one is the idealised spectator – generally omnipotent high in the stands. As a spectator we stay rooted to the spot. Yet in football film, the camera will insist on getting in among the players. To make us part of the team. We don’t want to be part of the team. We are spectators, and we know how we like our footie. Note that computer games rarely try to replicate the playing experience, rather the spectating experience. The football scenes are okay, but not what we want to see.
It will be interesting to see how Wimbledon deals with this.