Football (or football if you like to put it the wrong way) is arguably the most popular sport on the planet, but when it comes to cinematic depictions of the beautiful game, very few football movies have lived up to reality. So why is it so hard to make a good football movie?
There are some exceptions to this rule, of course. The 2000s film Bend It Like Beckham is a fantastic example of football and drama effectively combining, delivering all the fun and thrills we expect from an afternoon on the terraces. And, while it may be a little corny, Goal! is a perfectly worthwhile attempt to capture the magic of the sport, with most of its issues stemming from the acting rather than the visual side of things.
Therein lies the problem for most efforts in this subgenre; football as a sport relies heavily on its visual elements, and we as spectators are used to a very particular way of watching the game unfold. So when the filmmakers try to get us right into the action on the ground, as they so often insist on doing, it just doesn’t seem right.
To put it simply, the pace of a football match is too fast and intense to attempt to recreate in a cinematic way. The specific camera angle we see on our TV screens every weekend is chosen for a reason, in that it allows us to see as much ground as possible at all times.
When a studio broadcasts a game, the audience is seated in the stands, with close-ups reserved for the slower moments of a game when the ball is out of play, or to celebrate a goal. If a movie were to dwell on wide shots as much as a 90-minute football game, it would be quite an odd experience.
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The demands of a crowd of fans at a football match and the audience in a cinema are so different that it is almost impossible to strike the right balance for a football film. We don’t want to be on the ground watching the ball roll across the grass, nor do we want to all be standing in front of a sweaty player like we’re in an action movie.
These approaches are taken in an attempt to recreate the energy of a football match, but that’s the problem – you can’t recreate something so dynamic and expect to imbue the footage with the same kinetic energy. than if you saw the real thing. Football, like most sports, is rooted in natural, instinctive movements and moments.
The actors are very good at what they do, but it’s incredibly difficult to go through the motions of kicking a ball, performing a tackle, or even just running through space with enough authenticity to give the impression that they are athletes at the top of their game. . That’s why sports stars do what they do, because they’re the best of the best.
Some performers can achieve greatness though, but the common trend seems to be that individual sports translate much better on screen. Margot Robbie is flawless on the ice in the film based on a true story. Me, Tonya and Natalie Portman turns into a leading ballet dancer for the psychological thriller Black Swan.
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However, when it comes to a team sport, the intensity and pace are completely different and it becomes incredibly difficult to form a tangible version of it for cinematic purposes. There are simply too many moving parts.
Instead, when an actor performs any aspect of acting, more than likely after multiple takes, you’re diluting the inherent spontaneity and raw dynamism of beautiful acting. There’s a big difference between playing a sport and doing pretending to play a sport, and it really shows on screen.
Essentially, when trying to make a football movie, it’s crucial for any filmmaker to understand what works and what doesn’t. While much of it comes down to physics, the tone of the room is just as important in striking an effective balance.
Comedies like She’s The Man and Kicking and Screaming work because we can clearly tell that the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously. We can forgive the fact that it looks odd when they kick a ball and the camera doesn’t move as one would normally expect, because the story is made with the intention of being fun, nothing more.
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The same goes for something like Ted Lasso, the hit streaming service on Apple TV Plus. I don’t watch the trials and tribulations of AFC Richmond because I want authenticity, I watch Ted Lasso because all the characters are endearing and the TV series is a sweet, heartfelt, humorous experience that lies to be about a sport I love.
Likewise, drama films such as The Damned United or the 90s movie When Saturday Comes are effective because they are not just concerned with the action of the game, but more with the people entering the field. By resisting the temptation to overload gameplay footage, a filmmaker can capture the essence of the sport much more successfully.
Football fans don’t need overly edited and overly dramatic extreme close-ups of an actor pretending to ignore a defender before kicking the ball into the top corner of the goal. For a football movie to work, all we need is the heart and passion that makes the sport so evocative and can be brought to the big screen much more easily in a smaller, bigger story. intimate than in an all-song, all-dance grand gesture.
If football is your thing, you might want to know more about the Ted Lasso season 3 release date.