tue 26/05/2020

DVD: I Believe in Miracles | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: I Believe in Miracles

DVD: I Believe in Miracles

Documentary huzzahs Brian Clough's phenomenal Nottingham Forest

The Holy Grail: Cloughie shows off the European Cup at Forest's City Ground.Organic Publicity

A Derby County footballer said of his boss Brian Clough in the late 1960s: “He’s a swine, but you’d give him your last half-dollar". Clough’s ability to inspire a do-or-die mentality – and undying loyalty – in the Nottingham Forest players he forged into Europe’s dominant club side comes across forcefully through their comments in I Believe in Miracles, which arrives on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital next week with a 31-minute making-of featurette.

A Derby County footballer said of his boss Brian Clough in the late 1960s: “He’s a swine, but you’d give him your last half-dollar". Clough’s ability to inspire a do-or-die mentality – and undying loyalty – in the Nottingham Forest players he forged into Europe’s dominant club side comes across forcefully through their comments in I Believe in Miracles, which arrives on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital next week with a 31-minute making-of featurette.

There’s nothing of the “swine” in Jonny Owen’s upbeat documentary: a celebration of Clough and his assistant Peter Taylor’s guiding of Forest to promotion to the First Division in 1977, the League Championship in 1978, and the European Cup in 1979 (1980’s repeat triumph is given short shrift). Trevor Francis allows that Clough could be “ruthless”. Archie Gemmill remains aghast at being dropped for the 1979 Euro final and never playing for Forest again, but a closing title notes he returned, hatchet buried, to coach for Clough in 1984.

The interviews with the old Forest players are the strength of this unofficial documentary sequel to the fictional The Damned United (2009). To a man, they come across as tough, personable, and articulate, though striker Garry Birtles and hard-men center backs Larry Lloyd and Kenny Burns sometimes cloak their regard for Clough in blokeish comic anecdotes. Ever-present outside left John Robertson, who half-admits to being a “wastrel” before Clough and Taylor cracked the whip and nurtured his prodigious talent, speaks humbly of his journey.

Like The Class of ’92, I Believe in Miracles is aimed at the popular football market. Though Forest’s dynamic ascent is reflected in the film’s rhythm, Owen embroiders the ’79 European campaign with cuts to movie and TV clips – the Wooden Horse of Troy, Dad’s Army, the Wehrmacht – that trivialize it. Flavouring the era through contemporary R&B songs was another misstep.

No attempt was made to contextualize Forest’s evolution in the wake of Dutch Total Football or to explain how the club temporarily broke Liverpool’s domestic domination. Suggestions that Clough wasn’t a master tactician ring hollow. Match footage fleetingly demonstrates that Forest’s short-passing, hard-pressing, counter-attacking game warrants analysis it didn’t get from Owen. Cloughie’s miracle is left to fade into a movie myth – Alf Ramsey’s 1966 equivalent is likely to generate another one next year.

Suggestions that Clough wasn’t a master tactician ring hollow

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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