Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Das Wunder von Sixty Six"

There is a film coming to cinema near you called "Sixty Six". (Actually, already released in UK last year.) Here is the plot line...

England, the summer of ‘66 and the country is about to be consumed by World Cup Fever. For 12-year-old Bernie (GREGG SULKIN), the biggest day of his life is looming, the day he becomes a man - his Bar Mitzvah. However Bernie’s North London family seems a little distracted. His father Manny (EDDIE MARSAN) is concerned about the giant supermarket opening opposite his grocery shop, a business he shares with his more charismatic younger brother, Jimmy (PETER SERAFINOWICZ) — and it’s making Manny’s bizarre obsessive compulsive disorder even worse than usual. Between worrying about Manny and Bernie’s older brother Alvie (BEN NEWTON), mother Esther (HELENA BONHAM CARTER) barely has time to notice her better behaved younger son, and the only attention Bernie ever gets from Alvie is a punch for stepping onto the wrong side of their shared bedroom. Bernie believes his Bar Mitzvah is about to change all this. He’ll no longer be the kid everyone ignores, and he envisions and begins to plan the perfect ceremony and reception, where everyone assembled will acknowledge his new status as a man. Unfortunately for Bernie, things don’t quite go according to plan.

Hang on a minute... this film sounds like a Yiddish version of that German blockbuster, "Das Wunder von Bern (The Miracle of Bern)" (2003). The plot line goes thusly (from Wikipedia) ...

The Miracle of Bern (German title: Das Wunder von Bern) is a 2003 film by Sönke Wortmann, which tells the story of a German family (particularly of a young boy and his depressed ex-POW father) and the unexpected West German miracle victory in the 1954 World Cup Finalin Bern, Switzerland.

Richard, a coal miner from Essen, returns after nearly a decade of being a Soviet prisoner of war in Siberia. In the meantime, his wife, two sons and one daughter have reached a minimum standard of living without him. When he is unexpectedly repatriated in 1954, he has severe problems in reintegrating himself with his family and country. His wife is running a small business, his elder son has become a Communist challenging his father's ideals of the Nazi time, his daughter flirts with his former enemies, American GIs, and his 11-year-old son Matthias, who never knew his father, admires a local football hero instead, Helmut Rahn of Rot-Weiß Essen.

While Richard is initially very stern about Matthias' love for football, he gradually softens such that, on the night before the final, father and son drive to Bern to see the match.

An additional plot of the movie is the personal triumph of Helmut Rahn, for whom Matthias becomes a lucky mascot. Rahn, nicknamed "The Boss", has a successful record at club level, though is rarely chosen to play at national level in trainer Sepp Herberger's team.

There are several miraculous events in the movie. For Richard, it is the sudden joy of scoring a goal with an abandoned football. For Rahn, it is seeing Matthias on the sideline that spurs him into scoring the winning goal. For Sepp Herberger, however, the miracles are more mundane: the sudden rain that slows down the Hungarians (although it should be noted that German captain Fritz Walter tended to perform better in stormy conditions), but not so much the Germans fitted with Adi Dassler's revolutionary screw-in football spikes. For all Germans, it's the unexpected euphoria of a win that heals many wounds, becoming a symbol of the ongoing economic "miracle".

Tagline: Jedes Kind braucht einen Vater. Jeder Mensch braucht einen Traum. Jedes Land braucht eine Legende. (Every child needs a father. Every man needs a dream. Every nation needs a legend.)

Uneasy Teutonic and Semitic rivalry aside (whether presumed or otherwise), I must say Helena Bonham Carter as a Jewish mum is an inspired piece of casting. Girl, you've come a long way since "A Room With A View"...

I look forward to it.

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