ANDTo paraphrase Sepp Herberger, the saying goes: People watch movies and football games because they don’t know how it will end. A cinematographic representation of the decade in which FC Bayern Munich became the success machine it remains today, despite some crises, represents an enormous challenge for the director: anyone who is reasonably familiar with the history of German football knows, after all, the what a rise Bayern experienced between 1964 and 1974; Even younger generations and non-club fans are well informed about the results of important games and the anecdotes surrounding the prominent players. The tension is different.
Even so, David Dietl decided to film the story in a six-part series, based on the book “Good Friends: The True Story of FC Bayern Munich”, which long-time “Spiegel” journalist Thomas Hüetlin wrote in the style of narrative nonfiction (or, as Americans put it more succinctly, creative nonfiction) bathes the alleged truth in the warm light of its empathy.
Nostalgia in rich colors
Dietl also prefers the rich, conservative colors of sentimentalism. With a lot of effort down to the smallest details, the moment of social and football awakening is staged, the interior of the players’ parents’ homes, mostly modest, as well as the nightclubs where they later celebrate their successes. Dietl manages to masterfully incorporate contemporary photographs of Munich street scenes into his production with the same perfection as original images from the most important games.
The fact that the actors only vaguely resemble the actors – Jan-David Bürger comes closest to the Paul Breitner he plays – does surprisingly little harm to the matter. Obviously, it was even more important for Dietl that a lot of Bavarian was spoken. The decision is understandable, after all there was a notable accumulation of players from the region in this team of the century. However, listening can sometimes be tiring for non-Bavarians. Dialect experts need to decide to what extent language coloration has been authentically achieved; On an FC Bayern forum it was complained that the actor playing Sepp Maier (Paul Wellenhof) did not have the special Anzing coloring.
In the end, these are just little things. What’s more problematic is that even some of the main characters remain one-dimensional – above all, they have to embody the characteristics that made them important to the club’s rise. Breitner, the rebel on principle; Beckenbauer, the confident, agile leader and charming family man; Maier, the joker; Müller, the sincere and shy one. Their weaknesses, such as Beckenbauer’s tendency towards arrogance and Maier’s anxiety before important games, are only briefly mentioned.
The hustle and bustle of amateur sports
Bayern president Wilhelm Neudecker (Michael A. Grimm) is the hardest hit of the group of types. With his smile distorted by ambition, he seems a parody of a patriarchal economic miracle entrepreneur who seems to know no other social aggregate than irascibility and greasy cronyism. Things are only a little better for the legendary Robert Schwan, who, to some extent, invented the role of Bundesliga manager. Maximilian Brückner plays him as an intelligent, vain, cunning, sarcastic, determined and eloquent man, with considerable knowledge of human nature and an even greater level of alcohol consumption. With his instinct for marketing opportunities and the importance of investing in professional working and training conditions, Schwan laid the structural foundations for FC Bayern’s rise. For his own further benefit, he took over the management of Franz Beckenbauer, turned him into a publicity figure and thus established the profession of player agent in Germany as “Mister 20 percent”.
With this figure, Dietl clearly demonstrates how the lying stance of the noble amateur sport forced the people involved to practice practices beyond the border of illegality. The way in which the growing power of money is traced in football is one of the strongest passages in “Bons Amigos”. It’s fitting that of all the characters, Uli Hoeneß’s is drawn in the most different way. He is at the interface between the courageous kickers and the club’s stolen management. Although the film goes overboard with references to the much later downfall due to tax crime, the highlight is how Max Hubacher portrays the intellectual acuity of Hoeneß, whose populist streak, toughness with himself, greed for money and calculating nature still play a role in cronyism of the six-part series.
The selfish Hoeneß showed up to the World Cup final with a bad cold that he was hiding and promptly scored the penalty that gave the Dutch the early lead. His friends Breitner and Müller corrected the mistake with their goals, and Maier held on for victory, as the film tells it. The fact that the final was won was just the logical consequence of the fact that the Bayern players found a friendly relationship, despite their differences in character. And the Munich club completed its mission at national level in Munich. Fans of other clubs, whose heroes also played a key role, will have some objections at this point. But the RTL series wasn’t made for them either.
The first three episodes of Good friends – The rise of FC Bayern will be available to watch on RTL+ from this Saturday, the remaining episodes from November 22nd. The first three episodes will also be broadcast on RTL on November 22nd, starting at 8:15 pm.