I Believe in Miracles
As fiction films in the big screen keep becoming more formulaic and derivative, the documentary genre has honourably assumed the task of pushing the cinematic medium forward. The use of archive footage and the abandonment of the talking head in favour of a more interesting framing of the raconteurs are some refreshing elements in this contemporary tendency, which filmmakers like Jonny Owen have learned to embrace.
Owen’s I Believe in Miracles is named after The Jackson Sisters’ 1976 song, and it’s inspired in the same disco-era spirit of unapologetic fun – not on the dance floor but on the football field. It is the story about football manager Brian Clough and how he led the Nottingham Forest FC to go from second division underdogs to champions of the 1979 European Cup, beating Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal in their way to the top.
Having such a charming and magnetic main character is an advantageous start to making an entertaining film. But, the fact that it is beautifully edited with a vast recollection of rare archive material – as well as very amusing interviews with the players that achieved glory under Clough’s tutelage – make the film a joyous experience and a remarkable piece of cinematography. With just the right dosage of English humour, the film pays tribute to Clough’s best qualities, as it is charming, comical, and inspirational, lurking to the title of genius.
This is not the usual Hollywood-twist story of a personal triumph that thrives on a sentimental portrayal of the character’s back-stories. Instead, it is an honest celebration of the unlikely victory of an undermined side that as a unit made football history. It is thus, not about Brian Clough as a character, but about how he personalised all the great things that his sport can stand for: passion, strive, ruthlessness and fun.
I Believe in Miracles is proof that only on the film screen one can truly grasp the larger-than-life quality of everyday passions and emotions. It doesn’t attempt to provide objectivity or accuracy; it invites the audience to a shared subjectivity, where the audience can feel along the legendary squad the passion that led their way to success, and the admiration towards their fantastic leader. This depiction of one of the greatest football stories is a must-see for ardent football fans and self-proclaimed film buffs.
I Believe in Miracles will be released nationwide on October 13th 2015.