Thursday, 28 April 2011

Soccer Movies

Few films have been made about the beautiful game of soccer. Instead, Hollywood has focused on its major sports, Baseball, American Football and even Basketball and Ice Hockey.

SA has not made any blockbuster or independent fictional soccer films that I can remember. Yet, besides the English and Spanish, even the Tibetans have made a film about kicking a round ball around.

The Cup, made by Tibetans, pictured above, was released in 1999 and had monks checking out soccer legend, Ronaldo's haircut, and, based on this, thinking he was a monk too.

While SA waits to see its national sport, soccer on celluloid, here is a look at bunch of films that were made about that sport.

Escape to Victory was released in 1981. It is one of the few soccer films to feature real players but the play is far-fetched and the acting is hammy. It has Pele, Bobby Moore and Osvaldo Ardiles in it. Then Sly Stallone and Michael Caine deliver two rotten performances in it.

The Cup, as mentioned above, was more entertaining, even if it did not deal with soccer and its rules as directly.

The plot of The Cup involves two young Tibetan monks who are soccer fans, living in a Himalayan monastery in India. Their major goal in the film is to get a television so that they can watch the 1998 Soccer World Cup Final.

It is a cute film that looks at the concept of delayed gratification.

A film that does well with looking at a part of British football history is 2009’s The Damned United. It tells the story of Brian Clough, a famous British soccer manager. The film, based on a novel, follows Clough’s work at Derby County and Leeds United. This was where he upset officials, fans and players. He then won European titles at Nottingham Forest.

Clough is played by Michael Sheen, who is famous for impersonating Tony Blair in movies. He also does a rather good David Frost.

Timothy Spall plays Peter Taylor, Clough’s assistant manager. Their chemistry between the two actors is excellent and the film is very entertaining.

Shaolin Soccer was released in 2001. It also does not show accurate football. It is very creative though. Actor-Director Stephen Chow meshes soccer and kung-fu into a crazy film.

A Shaolin monk soccer team takes on a corporate-type soccer team. It is fun but it just is not true to the laws of soccer but maybe the spirit of it.

Lastly, I want to mention, Bend It Like Beckham (2002). This film launched the career of the English actress who loves to pout and show audiences her teeth, Keira Knightley. It also has Bollywood elements and, for people who remember, a cameo from MTV UK presenter, Trey.

It is easy to get behind the characters and dance along to the soundtrack. The football actually looks real too.

Now, anyone interested in making a local soccer film with me?

Alistair Anderson

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