Is German Film moving towards a 'New Patriotism'?An Analysis of Sönke Wortmann"s The Miracle of Bern based on the Prototype of the American Sports Film of the 1980s
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The 4th of July 1954 marks a crucial event in German history. With a 3:2 victory over a Hungarian team that had not been beaten for four whole years West Germany had won the F.I.F.A. World Cup for the first time. Helmut Rahn's winning goal instantly revived the spirit of an entire country that not even a decade before had experienced huge devastation in the Second World War and a general sentiment that 'we are somebody again' began to overlie the whole population. This triumph went on to be remembered as the 'Miracle of Bern'. In 2003, German director Snke Wortmann, in collaboration with the German Football Association (D.F.B.), was the first to attempt a full reconstruction of this event in the extent of a feature film. While there had been a certain fear that Wortmann might destroy what had already become a myth in the minds of many Germans, he himself believed that the film was necessary in order to keep the legend alive for a younger generation, who had no direct connection to or never even heard of this renowned event. In the end, Wortmann's film The Miracle of Bern drew more than three million people to the box office, thus making it one of the most successful films of 2003 over the whole of Europe, even though some journalists sharply criticized it as being the 'most American German film of all time'. In their opinion, Wortmann's predominant concern was to emphasize the mythical character of West Germany's sporting triumph. This was something that had never been attempted before in German cinema, but of which there are plenty examples in what might be called the 'classic' American sports film of the 1980s. In this regard, however, most reviews remain rather vague. Therefore, this study is aimed to provide a closer analysis of the subject matter, concentrating on the comparison of The Miracle of Bern to three successful 1980s' U.S. sports films, namely Field of Dreams (1989), The Natural (1984) and Hoosiers (1986). Furthermore I would like to suggest possible reasons why Wortmann might have orientated himself on a particularly American model in order to approach a subject that could not be more German.
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