Learning something new (as opposed to re-living something you already have seen or heard) is one of the biggest benefits of documentaries. I love that process of discovery.
Tonight's film - Sir Bobby Charlton, Football Icon
Sir Bobby Charlton, Football Icon (2011)
Rated: unrated (but I would say it's suitable for all ages)
"Documentary looking back at the remarkable career of footballer Sir Bobby Charlton. Sir Bobby was a key member of the England team that won the World Cup on home soil in 1966 and part of a Manchester United team touched by success and tragedy in equal measure." (source: BBC)
Link to the film - I watched it online via Youtube
This BBC production starts off with a pretty telling montage of visuals and clips. It's quickly understood that Sir Bobby Charlton is not just your ordinary soccer player. There is an outpouring of admiration, respect and enjoyment in the subject of Charlton.
A naturally gifted player growing up, Bobby came from a famous soccer family. Many of his uncles and other relatives played soccer professionally and it was decided early on that Charlton wanted to follow the same path.
He was only 15 when he drew the eye of Manchester United and was soon signed to a contract. He was dubbed one of the "Golden Apples" by manager Matt Busby who in turn waited for that fruit to ripen and mature.
Dubbed the "Busby Babes", Manchester had numerous young players picked by Busby himself along with his scouting team and were on the verge of becoming a huge powerhouse in the soccer world.
That was until 1958 and an event that would change Bobby Charlton and the Manchester United team forever. Even now when Bobby talks about it he wells up with emotion. Many have said that he entered that season as a boy but left it as a man. (And no I won't divulge the event....you'll have to watch it to find out).
Matt Busby claimed he would not only rebuild, but reach the greatness destined for Man U. He said he would do it in just 5 years. He was right on in his prediction. Fiv years later, Manchester United won the FA Cup. Led by the "United Trinity" of George Best, Dennis Law and Bobby Charlton (who have a statue outside Man U's stadium.
The film's climax was the 1966 World Cup, held in England. The home team were favoured to win and Charlton was expected to play a pivotal role in the tournament.
He didn't disappoint. Leading his England team to victory over West Germany in the finals (in extra time no less). Bobby had reached the peak of his career, but there was still some unfinished business.
The European Cup had eluded Manchester United for a decade after "the event" and in 1968 they reached the finals. In an emotionally driven night, Charlton scored twice to defeat Benfica and earn the trophy.
Charlton's career came to an end five years later in 1973 and he still holds the record for most total goals scored by a Manchester United player.
Soccer is still a very big part of his life (even into his seventies). He plays rec league soccer and is on the Board of Directors for Man U. Adored by fans and players to this day, he is clearly one of the all-time greats.
I enjoyed this documentary because of the subject. Bobby Charlton seems like a genuinely nice person, a soccer player with a lot of drive and passion and is humble and appreciative of his achievements. It was great to hear his story straight from the horse's mouth. A lot of times I have seen docs about people and they aren't involved in the production. Those lack - plain and simple.
There is a lot of great archival footage (both video and photos) and supplemental interviews from past teammates, opponents as well as family members.
The story is strong and interesting and Charlton is definitely worthy of an hour-long doc. No question.
The areas that lacked would be the overall tone of the film. It was very "connect-the-dots". First we are here, then here and finally here. No real up or down of story. Yes, there is some emotion, but I think there could have been even more done to heighten some of the successes and tragedies.
Overall, a feel-good documentary that was definitely not a waste of time. The BBC know what they are doing.
3 out of 5
Here are some other reviews I found online for the film...
(there's not much out there)