Tuesday, 8 May 2012
Football Films, Salutes, Mike Summerbee and the Olympics
I saw Offside by Jafar Panahi last week. Panahi is now imprisoned in Iran for his film-making activities. Offside is a film about girls who try to sneak into a segregated male-only stadium to watch Iran beat Bahrain in a world cup qualifying decider. It's a film about the doublethink of religion and the effect politics has on both those who enforce ideologically non-sensical laws and those upon whom they are inflicted.
Despite all this, Offside is still a film about football, about supporting a team and a nation, about being part of a victory and being united in celebration and joy.
There are so few good films about football - I think Offside is the only one. I was bitterly disappointed by Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. I was hoping for the purity of one camera and one microphone but the multiple perspectives kind of ruined the real time for me.
For a top football film scene, it's hard-to-beat Brian Glover in this scene from Kes.
For camp football and Nazi films it's impossible to beat Michael Caine, Pele, Ossie Ardiles and Mike Summerbee in the seriously bad Escape to Victory.
More Nazi salutes courtesy of the England team playing in Germany in 1938 - the FA ordered them to salute, God Bless them.
Still connected to nationalism and saluting are some more contemporary matters. What with the Olympics and the Queen's Silver Jubilee, England this summer is looking to be like a special circle of Hell for those of us who are both Republican and don't buy in to Jackboot-licking sports event. So it was heartening to see Liverpool fans booing the British National anthem at the FA Cup Final last weekend - a national anthem that begins "God Save Our Gracious Queen...", signalling an end to a popular consensus on the supremacy of the Royal Family.
Here is the Liverpool Echo on the booing of the National Anthem.
And a fairly typical comment from one perspective below.
"Well done those reds, the only Liverpool fans I ever respected used to be my mum and dad. But now there's a glimmer of hope for the rest of them, well those who jeered and booed anyway.
Absolutely atrocious national anthem, no matter what the toadies above say ("ooh what'll proper people think of us?!?!") - its the anthem of imperial butchers and belongs to a class of people that wouldn't pee on someone from Liverpool if they were on fire.. Decent hardworking people need not respect it, I always sit, boo, jeer etc whenever its odious cacophony is forced down my ears.
Long may the tradition continue!!"
And the same goes for the Olympics. I don't know what my favourite London Olympics factoid is - but it's probably that London's Olympic Stadium is going to be wrapped in some kind of corporate Christo advertisement for Dow Chemical - the company responsible for 15,000 deaths in the worst chemical disaster in history.
Anyway, enough of all this negativity. Let's hope that the athletes do wonderfully and rediscover the true spirit of the Olympics; as Jesse Owens did when embarrassing Hitler at the Nazi Olympics of Berlin in 1936 or Tommie Smith and John Carlos (with Australia's Peter Norman in a supporting role ) did when giving the Black Power salute at Mexico's Olympic Stadium in 1968. We all love them now for it, but remember that at the time they were villified for it.
As for London, well here's a little bit of an alternative view, focussing on the quality of the logo and Dow's responsibility for the horrors of Bhopal.