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Das Wunder von Bern (2003)

The Miracle of Bern

Every nation needs a legend.

Directed by:

Sönke Wortmann

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 118 minutes

UK Certificate: PG

On DVD

Country: Germany

Come the summer of 2006, Germany will finally get what it’s secretly been after for years: world domination. But, before you start thinking “oh no, here we go again”, I should probably point out that I’m speaking merely in a football sense. You see, it’s Fritz’s turn to host the World Cup again, which means that for a couple of months all eyes will be on The Land of the Bratwurst as they turn their ruthlessly-efficient hands to organising the planet’s top sports tournament.

So, with national enthusiasm for the beautiful game set to reach boiling point, the time has never been better for a good quality German fussball flick. Step forward ex-footy-pro-turned-film-director Sonke Wortmann with his stab at capitalising on Gerry’s revitalised passion for the sport: ‘The Miracle of Bern’.

A charming – if ridiculously simple – little film, it attempts to bring a smattering of whimsy to West Germany’s historic 1954 World Cup campaign. The story focuses on 11-year-old Matthias (Louis Klamroth). With his non-ironic lederhosen and Aryan blonde look, he’s every inch the German. Still, anyone who was ever picked last for playground kickabouts will find themselves instantly able to relate to him. And, despite being rubbish at actually playing the game, that doesn’t stop him from being obsessed with it to the extent that when his local club – Rott Weiss Essen – are playing away from home, he has their scores brought to him by carrier pigeon (which is only marginally slower than the modern-day equivalent, Teletext). He’s even managed to make friends with the local star player, Helmut Rahn (Sascha Gopel), a Brylcream-loving goal-grabber who’s been called up to represent his country at the finals in Switzerland.

With an approach that’s destined to curry favour with cliché-spouting commentators everywhere, Wortmann’s film is truly a game of two halves. One half looks at young Matthias and his Billy Elliot-style efforts to win over his grumpy father (Peter Lohmeyer, who’s also his dad in real life). The other follows the much-maligned German team as they overcome the odds to make it all the way to the final match at Bern’s snigger-inducing Wankdorf Stadium. Both sides of the tale are nice, and there’s a great look to the film which really captures what I imagine early post-War Europe must have looked like, but generally speaking it’s all pretty tame and uninspiring. It’s meant to appeal to kids, but I’d much rather have any kids of mine out playing with a ball themselves… in preparation for beating German teams of the future!

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It's Got: Jules Rimet still gleaming.

It Needs: Big studs for bad weather, little ones for good. Or is it the other way round?

DVD Extras There’s a trailer, which is pretty straightforward and dull – but the real gem in this package is the 10-minute reel of original colour footage from the ‘54 World Cup. That bit alone is a must-see for all football fans. Version reviewed: The Miracle Of Bern (Soda Pictures) DVD Extras Rating: 4/10

Alternatives:

Bend It Like Beckham

Summary

It’s nice, but less than miraculous. Here’s hoping the 2006 World Cup is a bit more exciting than this!

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One Comment

  1. Wayne Hiltz
    Posted January 6, 2010 at 3:05 am | Permalink

    As you may guess, I’m of German origin (German-Canadian) that gives me a different perspective from yours. Like in real life, the important part of
    the film deals with the family while the action on the pitch is supporting
    that. Witmess the kids’ playing at the same time as the commentary of the
    semi-final match against Austria. For a demoralized people, it was inspiring to win such an unexpected victory. And for many Germans these days, it must still be inspiring. And it’s inspiring to me – one who wasn’t even born yet
    and never even set foot in the country.

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