Starring: Gary Oldman, Paul Gascoigne, Gary Lineker, Bobby Robson, Chris Waddle, John Barnes, David Platt
Directed by: James Erskine
Synopsis: Before the Premier League and multi-million pound salaries, in England ‘football’ was a dirty word. The game was in disgrace, the fans, hooligans, the nation, it seemed, were all played out. Then there was Italia ’90 – The World Cup – a shot at redemption.
With the greatest show on Earth, the World Cup, being no more than two weeks away at the of writing this, what better time to revisit this movie, and it’s account of Italia ’90 and the England team’s dramatic rise from villains to heroes, aided and abetted by a certain Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne.
First of all, forgive me for getting a bit misty eyed here, but this was the first time I got into football and as such holds so many special memories for me. In fact, it’s probably never been the same since. In fact, fellow blogger Giorge Thomas wrote an interesting article here. Football, at least on the pitch, in the early nineties was a much simpler, more humble, honest form of entertainment. No multi million pound contracts or cynicism. It was off the field that really dragged the beautiful game through the mud. Hooliganism was rife and a particularly nasty event in the Heysel Stadium, Belgium between Liverpool and Juventus fans cause a wall to collapse, killing thirty or so Juventus fans. English clubs were promptly banned from European competition and their reputations tarnished forever. It got worse. In 1989, in an FA cup semi-final at Hillsborough stadium 96 Liverpool fans died when one of the stands was over crowded. At the time the fans were blamed, and only recently has it come to light that the police more than played their part in the tragedy.
As for the England national team, their stock was at an all time low. They failed to win a single match at the 1988 European Championships and struggled to even qualify for the World Cup in 1990. But qualify they did, giving the under-fire manager Bobby Robson a last chance of glory. And the rest is history.
I am going to put biased aside despite my love of the World Cup, and this one in particular. My heroes and team I support were forged in the heat of Italy. Gazza and Gary Lineker became instant idols and led me to years of disappointment supporting Tottenham Hotspur (can’t win ’em all). One Night in Turin was a good, if not great, account of England’s road to the Semi-Finals. It was good having a legend like Gary Oldman narrating the story, giving it the gravitas it deserves. The soundtrack was awesome, using the popular music of the time, such as the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, New Order and The Charlatans. It soundtracks the footage of riots and football superbly. The only downside was the insistent need to keep putting in ‘specially shot imagery’ of footballs hitting the back of the net, and feet dribbling footballs and sliding into tackles. They disrupted the real footage in my opinion and added nothing to the drama.
And, oh, the drama. I know not everyone likes football and I (sort of) understand that. But who can’t get affected when their own national team makes it through a tournament in any sport, raising the hopes and expectations of the general public. The thought of half the country sat around their TV sets tuned in, praying that their team will win, certainly makes you think that despite all of footballs faults, it still has that power to pull people together. The joy of watching One Night in Turin was the rekindling of memories that will love with me forever. I was ten at the time and I remember my brother and I had a VHS of all the goals in Italia ’90 that we used to watch over and over again until the tragic moment we realised that our mum had recorded ‘Gardeners World’ over it!
Anyway, upon once again witnessing the likes of David Platt’s last gasp winner against Belgium, Gary Lineker’s goals, Pearce and Waddle’s missed penalties and, of course, Gazza’s tears upon getting booked and realising that, if England beat Germany, he will be suspended for the Final. It sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it, and, if I’m totally honest, makes me well up myself every time I see it.
I can’t say One Night in Turin is a perfect documentary, but it does capture that period of time off the pitch really well, and get’s across just how much England were under pressure, both politically and in a football sense. It also does a good job of portraying the tense and exciting action on the pitch.