Miracle of Bern, The

Director: Sanke Wortmann

2003. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 118 mins.

Fresh from its triumph as winner of the Audience Award at the Locarno Film Festival comes director and ex-football player Sanke Wortmann’s The Miracle of Bern, an intensely emotional and touching family drama set against the exhilarating background of West Germany’s World Cup victory in 1954. As the film opens, the Soviet Union is sending its prisoners of war home. Among them is Richard (Peter Lohmeyer), the father of quiet, football-loving Matthias (Louis Klamroth), an 11-year-old who lives with his mother, sister and brother in a West German mining town. The return of the father casts a shadow over the once-happy family. Broken by his years in captivity, Richard has trouble adapting to life in post-war Germany and alienates his family through his severity. He disapproves of his son’s obsession with soccer, but the boy’s passion and fighting spirit effect a change of heart that’s as ‘miraculous’ as Germany’s soccer triumph.
Director Wortmann, who was a leading light in the commercial renaissance of Germany cinema during the 1990s with hits such as Der Bewegte Mann (1994), has lost none of his ability to engage an audience when armed with an invigorating story and a budget that allows for big-screen attractions such as elaborate visuals and a rousing symphonic score. The performances are all first-rate, with veteran Lohmeyer bringing an ascetic gravitas to the role of the father.

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