If soccer movies were as exciting as sportscaster Andrés Cantor makes scoring in real-life soccer matches sound ("GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!'), we wouldn't be asking this question. But even die-hard fans of both cinema and soccer must ask, Why have there been no great movies about the most popular sport in the world?
You might easily dismiss my thinking since I'm an American and I live in a city where (American) football is considered a religion, so why not listen to more informed opinions? Simon Clifford, team owner and manager, trained players for soccer film The Damned United, which opens in the UK tomorrow. He told Glenn Moore of The Independent UK: "If the football doesn't look right the whole film can fall flat."
Director Alan Parker (Midnight Express, Fame, Angela's Ashes) observed: "It's an impossibly difficult sport to replicate because football is seen primarily in wide-shot. The excitement unfolds seeing at least four players in one shot. This is very difficult to cheat. The illusion of film is about editing and close-ups." Parker notes that boxing, baseball, and American football lend themselves much more easily to film adaptations. "Most importantly, the skills cannot be replicated by actors as they can in boxing or baseball."
Is this all hogwash to cover up for the Brits' inability to make a great soccer movie? Bend It Like Beckham was pretty good, but not really great, was it? Is that the best we can hope for? Do you think John Huston's Victory, with Sylvester Stallone as a goalkeeper (pictured) and Pelé, is a hidden gem? Are we missing some awesome foreign-language flicks that capture the spirit of the sport? How come there are no great soccer movies?