Taking over England's top football club Leeds United, previously successful manager Brian Clough's abrasive approach and his clear dislike of the players' dirty style of play make it certain there is going to be friction. Glimpses of his earlier career help explain both his hostility to previous manager Don Revie and how much he is missing right-hand man Peter Taylor who has loyally stayed with Brighton & Hove Albion.Written by
Part of this was filmed in Scarborough in Yorkshire where they pretended it was Brighton by using computer graphics to show the pier. In one scene filmed there they forgot to cover the machine to pay for parking which did not exist at that time. See more »
In the film you see a pier call Brighton Pier, yet in the 1970s this was called the Palace Pier or even Brighton Palace Pier. It was also a completely different looking pier to what was seen, it has been refurbished and changed many times since. See more »
Whether or not it's fact or fiction it's certainly entertaining!
I went to see this film with a certain trepidation as I don't always understand the true workings of the so-called beautiful game. I'm often rather lost by the offside rule, not too sure what actually constitutes handball and can't quite understand why a good friend can kiss a poster of George Weah and refer to the Liberian as a God. However, I can recognise what a worldwide phenomenon football has become and the massive status that the late Brian Clough held within in the sport.
Clough was one heck of a character and very much of his time and this is where 'The Damned United' really succeeds. You feel like you are truly watching the 70s when men were men and modern players like constant diver Cristiano Ronaldo would have been laughed (or even kicked) off the pitch. Sheen gives an excellent performance and Clough is portrayed as a complex individual with the sort of charisma and wit, which may endear him to cinema-goers who have little knowledge of football or the man himself.
However, I saw this film with a friend who is a huge soccer fan and who confessed afterwards to having certain problems with the accuracy of the story. The film is after all based on a book by David Peace, which merges the facts with his own fiction to show what he thought might being going on behind the scenes during Clough's reign as manager of Derby County and his infamous 44 days in charge at Leeds United. Having recently watched some TV dramatisations of Peace's other novels involving the real life Yorkshire Ripper murders it is easy to see why some people find his particular way of merging fact with fiction lacking in credibility. I personally didn't have such a problem with this film as I felt it really got to grips with who Clough was as a football manager and his probable motives for how he went about the job at Leeds.
While the film's narrative sometimes veers confusingly back and forth between Clough's time at Derby and his short spell at Leeds, 'The Damned United' is a really enjoyable piece of entertainment full of great actors bringing to life intriguing characters. The ultimate strength of the film is that the story manages to become more about friendship (the relationship between Brian and Peter Taylor) and the destructiveness of vanity rather than how many football matches Clough won.
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