Something a little different for you this week. Instead of talking about football in general, I am going to offer you a review of a film that I watched last night. Now, I love my football and there have been many sad things that have happened over the years in the game. I think one of the most poignant is the air disaster that struck the Manchester United team plane in Munich in 1958. United tells the story of that fateful day on 6th February and the after effects of that terrible crash.
The film also gives us an insight into how the disaster affected Bobby Charlton in particular after the loss of his best friend Duncan Edwards.
The film is just over 90 minutes long appropriately enough and I think its one of the best films I have seen this year. I like historical dramas and this being a true story is right up my street. I knew about what had happened in 1958 and have always had sympathy for the team regarding it. When something like that happens, the football goes out of the window and rivalries should be forgotten about. Of course in more recent times, other teams like to poke fun at disasters like these and it sours my appetite for football greatly.
Directed by James Strong who has only really done TV work before this, he makes a superb job of it and it is a wonderful movie debut for him. The cast is equally as talented, with the likes of David Tennant as United coach Jimmy Murphy who wasn’t actually in the crash, but kept the club going and somehow managed to cobble together teams in the weeks following the crash. Also starring is Dougray Scott as manager Matt Busby, Sam Claflin as Duncan Edwards, but for me the stand out performance was that of Jack O’Connell who portrayed Bobby Charlton. Goalkeeper Harry Greig is played by Ben Peel who is a seriously underused actor. Everyone one in the film puts in a sterling performance and should be very proud of this film.
The story is told very precisely and without hamming up the actually accident itself. The experience the crash in a similar way to how the people involved must have. None of them knew if the plane had even left the ground before crashing and this is how we see it happen on screen. Its very moving in places aswell and I think any Manchester United fan watching this will find it very hard to fight back the tears just as much as I did throughout the movie, and I don’t even support them. Like I said before, its not about who you support.
What I will say is that there were stories from relatives of certain key people who were involved with the club at the time, that told of huge inaccuracies within the film and portrayals such as Matt Busby in an overcoat and Trilby were wholly untrue. I understand that this will sometimes be the case and bear in mind that yes, ok, some things could have been done better, or perhaps more true, but this is just one person’s interpretation of the people he has read about. Busby’s son in particular was unhappy about the film. Unfortunately, some of the people that died are overlooked, such as the journalists, but the film is primarily about the football team and there is only so much storytelling time available. So these are the only negatives.
However, taking the small negative points out of the equation and basing my review purely on the film itself, I enjoyed it as much as I did Senna and in the same ways. Although it is a dramatisation of those events, the effect is just as important and I urge people to see this film. I give it a well deserved 10/10 and much credit to all involved with this project that seems to have gone sadly under the radar. Everyone who knows me will know that I rarely give full marks for a film. United is a true winner. Here is the trailer and some mentions.
Players killed: Roger Byrne (captain) Mark Jones, Eddie Colman, Tommy Taylor, Liam (Billy) Whelan, Duncan Edwards, David Pegg and Geoff Bent.
Journalists killed: Alf Clarke, Don Davies, George Follows, Tom Jackson, Archie Ledbrooke, Henry Rose, Eric Thompson, Frank Swift.
Others killed: Walter Crickmer (Manchester United club secretary, who was in charge of the side during the Second World War); Bert Whalley (chief coach and former United player); Tom Curry (club trainer); Captain Kenneth Rayment (co-pilot); Bela Miklos (travel agent); Willie Satinoff (fan); Tom Cable (air steward).