The Kaiser, the strange and incomprehensible biopic about Beckenbauer

The Kaiser, the strange and incomprehensible biopic about Beckenbauer

The Kaiser

We don't have the exclusive of bad historical reconstructions and hagiographies all messed up not only in the photography but also in the screenplay, written with listlessness and with the aim of shedding light on everything, clarifying everything immediately through the dialogues, and making people say to the characters everything there is to know, so that the spectator doesn't have to do the slightest activity to understand something and the film even less to make people understand anything other than the lines spoken by the actors. The Kaiser is all this, a Sky Original film (available from 16 December) about Franz Beckenbauer, footballer, world champion as a coach and player, as well as German national glory.

All awe towards the character is measured with precision in the film, which starts from the first professional teams in which Beckenbauer played and reaches the World Cup in Italy '90 won as a coach. In between there are tax scandals, escape to America, the struggle to impose the role of free but as always in these cases above all the turbulent relationship with the father, the various wives, the betrayals, loves and ardor for football. A tale of feelings and bad wigs, of mimetic makeup to become the same as real characters so bad that even if many of these characters are not known to us, it is not difficult to understand that they don't really look like us.

But what really amazes is the writing. This German film about a hero of German football history, one whose feats everyone knows (won the World Cup, titles with Bayern Munich, Italy-Germany: 4-3 played with a sling…) seems to have been written by someone who doesn't know nothing about football for an audience that has no familiarity with this sport and its history. At the meeting before the 1966 World Championship Final he is ordered to guard Bobby Charlton, described as: "A player who can do anything". As if coaches and players of the German national team needed to tell each other and weren't any more specific than that. Worse yet, Beckenbauer writes down the name "Charlton" in a notebook, as if he had never heard of it and had to remember it. This is the tone and measure of how football is treated in the film.

The approach is clearly not interested in technique, particularity and sporting effort, which would then be what distinguished the portrayed character, but it is aimed at sentimental plots trying to make them resemble those of the other stories. It is a type of angle that we know very well and recognize immediately, the one that lingers more on the dreamy eyes of a mother or on the quarrels with his wife, than on the great historical events and how they occurred or behind the scenes. It's the classic television drama approach, productions that aim to please no one but rather not to dissatisfy as many distracted viewers as possible whose only predictable desire is to always see the same thing.

The story of Beckenbauer thus becomes the usual story, made up of the usual ascents and the usual conflicts, of the usual reactions and of the usual figures (the footballer full of passion for sport, the parents who are a bit harsh but loving, the relatives who are close to him, lifelong friends and colleagues and traitors). This ability to flatten an entire screenplay that in theory tells of a single life and hammer it until every specificity of that life is canceled to make it into any screenplay, is an all-television talent that until today cinema (fortunately ) knew little. This is why it is surprising to find her in a Sky Original production, of which there aren't many and they are usually shrewd.

It's difficult to understand who could be the best audience for a similar production. Certainly not those who choose to see the film because attracted by the figure of Beckenbauer, because it is assumed that he knows much more than what the film has to say. Probably not the audience for sentimental stories, because this one is inevitably only half so. Maybe The Kaiser can appeal to whoever sits on the sofa, next to each of these two categories, and he undergoes the choice. Dissatisfied and worried about what could be, the spectator-companion is perhaps the only one happy that the film is not what it promises.

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