The Miracle of Bern

Director: Sonke Wortmann

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

A huge hit in Germany and winner of the Audience Award at the Locarno Film Festival, director and ex-football player Sonke Wortmann’s The Miracle of Bern is an intensely emotional and touching family drama set against the exhilarating background of West Germany’s surprise 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 the post-war world and alienates his family through his severity. He disapproves of his son’s obsession with soccer, but the boy’s passion and fighting spirit effects a change of heart that’s as ‘miraculous’ as Germany’s triumph. Director Wortmann, who was a leading light in the commercial renaissance of German cinema during the 1990s with hits such as Der Bewegte Mann (The Most Desired Man), 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 the veteran Lohmeyer bringing an ascetic gravitas to the role of the troubled father.

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