Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Most Beautiful Sport

There have been a lot of sports movies made. Some better than others. Of course the key to every sports movie is to capture the beauty of the sport in action. Some sports are harder than others. I would think that golf would be easy because golf really is about the swing and the courses yet I don't know that anyone has captured that just yet. The beauty of baseball can be about a lot of things. It can be the home run, an old stadium, or the final play at the plate. Football is along the same lines. A beautiful shot in football could be a big hit, or a great leap to catch a touchdown pass, or an unbelievable juke from a tailback. I would say the same for basketball as well. And because of this, there aren't a lot of movies that have truly captured these sports because its beauty means different things to different people.

When you look at the game of Soccer, it's really quite simple. The beauty of the sport is in how the ball moves. You can watch a soccer game for hours for the single purpose of seeing that 10 seconds of brilliant movement. Most people quickly become bored with the sport. To some it's just a ball being kicked around, but to me it's the building of the perfect play. The pass leads to the cross which then leads to the score. To me all the waiting in the world is worth that 5 or 10 seconds of perfection. And while the movie Victory may not be the best sports movie, it captured the beauty of soccer perfectly. The scene comes at the end when the Alliance is mounting an incredible comeback against Germany. Pele has come off the bench to help his team. He dribbles through the defenders, passes it off to another player who centers the ball back to Pele for him to bicycle kick the ball into the goal. What's interesting is how Huston covers the scene. At first, much like every other sports movie, we catch the action. Up close with Pele dribbling and then wider as we see the ball cross. Huston is then back in close with the bicycle kick into the goal. But then we see it again, only as if Max Von Sydow as Major Karl Von Steiner is visualizing it in almost a dreamlike state. Each shot slowed down and put beautifully to music. It is through Major Steiner's eyes that we get to truly grasp the beauty of what we are seeing. Of course as a member of the audience, we are watching Pele do what he does best, but through the eyes of Major Steiner, we are witnessing a beautiful sport in its purist form - uncorrupted by politics or an ongoing war. Major Steiner cannot help but stand and spontaneously cheer for what he has witnessed. And neither can I.


RC said...

intetesting thoughts.

i think a contemporary challenge for the sports movie is that it must show something different than what they can show in real sports broadcasting...different angles, etc. (yet still look authentic).

you're right about how there's a lot of differnt things to beautify in baseball movies.

Jeremy Fuksa: Creative Generalist said...

I'm not an overtly huge sports fan, but growing up Victory was one of my favorite sports movies. In fact, I think it's due for another viewing. In first grade I had a Pele lunchbox as a direct result of this film.

Piper said...


You bring up an interesting point and it's why I'm usually not impressed with most football movies. There is nothing that I see in a movie, that I don't see every Sunday on Inside The NFL or every other football highlight reel.

You can't say that same for baseball or basketball, but football is a well covered sport.