Suitable entertainment for June soccer season
June 2006 is the season of the World Cup. One of the ways to fully enjoy the games is to also watch soccer films, which show soccer lovers from all over the globe.
The most typical soccer films in Korea are “Season in the Sun” (2003) and “Prison World Cup” (2000). “Season in the Sun” is about a juvenile soccer team led by a monk and a Catholic priest, and describes the competition and solidarity among the young players on the team. “The Prison World Cup” by director Bang Sung-ung is a comedy, which deals with some prison inmates who start to work out, hoping for victory in an Inmate World Cup tournament proposed by the UN Human Rights Commission.
Another football movie depicting inmates, although not Korean, is “Victory” (1981) by John Huston. The film tells of a soccer match between German and allied prisoners during the Second World War. One of the most impressive parts of the movie is the appearance of Pele, the popular Brazilian soccer player. His fancy footwork is worthy of close attention, along with other notable movie stars like Michael Caine, Max von Sydow and Sylvester Stallone.
Another soccer movie set in prison is “Mean Machine” (2001) directed by Barry Skolnick. As in “Victory,” a famous former professional player plays the protagonist. In this case, Vinnie Jones is the hero, Danny, a one-time professional soccer player and representative figure in Wales who went to prison after he assaulted a police officer. There, he learns the virtue of helping others and eventually leads an inmate soccer team in a match against the team of guards.
There are also movies in which well-known soccer stars appear as themselves. One of them is England’s David Beckham. In the 2002 movie “Bend It Like Beckham,” the player agreed only for a substitute actor to stand in for him. The movie is about a British-Indian girl and her friends who want to be soccer stars.
Later, Beckham reportedly regretted not agreeing to appear in person so, in 2005, took small parts in two movies ― “Real” and “The Goal,” playing himself. “The Goal” by director Danny Cannon is about a boy trying to get accepted into the English Premier League. “Real” by Spanish director Borja Manso is a documentary based on five fan letters to the Spanish Real Madrid team. Along with Beckham, Zidane and Raul Gonzalez Blanco appear in the movie as themselves.
Other soccer movies tell stories of people learning and teaching soccer. One such is the Australian film, “Struck By Lighting” (1990), by director Jerzy Domaradzki. Throughout the movie, Down Syndrome patients express their emotions and hardships through soccer. In “The Big Green” (1995) by Holly Goldberg Sloan, a female foreign exchange teacher starts a new post at an elementary school and inspires new found hope.
“Didier” (1997) by Alain Chabat and “Shaolin Soccer” (2001) by Chinese director Stephan Chiau feature, respectively, dogs and martial artists playing soccer.
“Cup” (1999) by Khyentse Norbu and “The Miracle of Bern” (2003) by Sonke Wortmann show efforts to watch the World Cup games. In “Cup,” young monks in Bhutan try to install a TV in order to watch the French World Cup final. The German film “The Miracle of Bern” is about an 11-year-old boy who leaves his house in a West German mining town cheer the German soccer team, which has advanced to the final in Switzerland.
This year, North Korea reportedly asked the South to assist in allowing its citizens to watch the 2006 World Cup on television. That situation brings to mind British director Daniel Gordon’s documentary “The Game of Their Lives” (2002). The movie chronicles North Korea’s 1966 World Cup team that advanced to the quarterfinals. In the movie, British spectators reflect on the game, in which the North Korean team, with an average height of 162 centimeters, played and beat the powerful Italian team.
Till June 30th, the CQN Theater, in Myeongdong, central Seoul, will screen “The Game of Their Lives” three times a day free of charge in the lobby on the 8th floor.
by Ok Seon-hee