© Zorro Film

Das Grösste Spiel der Welt (The Great Match, La Gran Final)
Spain/Germany 2006

Opening 7 Jun 2007

Directed by: Gerardo Olivares
Writing credits: Gerardo Olivares, Chema Rodriguez

In this German-Spanish film three diverse groups of people go to great lengths to watch Germany play Brazil in the 2002 World Soccer final game on television. The Mongolian nomads, carrying their hunting falcons, ride from pasture to pasture on their sturdy little ponies. The Tuaregs on camelback meet Arabs travelling by truck across the desert. Finally, primitive Indians in the Amazon hunt for monkeys. Each group has a television set and the same challenge: to connect it to antenna and electricity for the duration of the game. The Mongols must offer hospitality to Russian officers for the privilege of watching in the comfort of their warm tents. They cheer for the Germans. The Arabs must depend on one person’s talent at repairing the TV and then suffer the arrogance of another’s illusions of grandeur who demands that they cheer for the Brazilians. The Indians ditch their useless TV and go off to the American mission, where the man in charge refuses to watch anything but baseball. They travel further and watch together with the men who run the saw mill, i.e., who are cutting down their jungle when they aren’t watching soccer.

Director Gerardo Olivares shows that one sport can unify diverse tribes around the world, and at the same time he reveals common traits among all people: pettiness, willingness to compromise, ingenuity, differences between the sexes, and most of all: humor. We are basically all one family. Olivares has made this as a docudrama – partly fiction, with much truth in it. He draws from a background making documentary films in the field of anthropology and nature since 1991. The scenery, Ténéré Desert in Niger, Altai mountains in Mongolia, and Amazon jungle in Brazil, is beautiful. This soccer film stands up well against other soccer films from Shao Lin Monks to Iranian girl soccer players, to Germans winning in Bern and Jürgen Klingsmann in 2006. It could be compared to One Day in Europe where different groups work through their little problems with soccer on everyone’s mind. Highly recommended even if you hate soccer. (Becky Tan)

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