Saturday, January 19, 2008

Euro 2008 Film Festival: Group D, Russia

Film Festival Rules & Guidelines

Film selected (Year, Director): Daywatch (2006, Timur Bekmambetov)
Rating: 6/10

Rules compliance: Since I have seen Timur's previous film Nightwatch, which forms part of a trilogy along with Daywatch and Twilight watch (to be released in 2009), the criteria of choosing a film from an unfamiliar director was not met.

Relevance to Soccer: Changing face of modern Russian & European soccer because of billionaire owners.

The first obvious signs of money being poured into Russian soccer was highlighted by the presence of Brazilian soccer players in various Russian teams a few years ago. 10 years ago no Brazilian would have gone to play professional football in Russia because of two reasons:
  • The cold Russian weather

  • Low salaries compared to those offered by Western European teams

  • Now, despite what people say about global warming, Russia still has chilly weather and soccer games are often played on snow with an orange colored soccer ball. Examples of this can also be found in Daywatch where a few kids engage in a footie game on snow.

    So if the weather is still cold, then it must be money that is luring not only Brazilians but even some Western Europeans to Russia! Some of this money has paid dividends as CSKA Moscow beat Sporting Lisbon 3-1 to win the 2005 UEFA Cup and that too in a game held in Sporting's stadium. The fascinating play of the Brazilian duo of Daniel Carvalho and Vagner Love made the difference that night in Lisbon.

    Besides pouring money into the domestic Russian clubs, a few young Russian businessmen are also investing money in various Western European soccer teams or outright buying them. Chelsea in West London is a prime example of a team whose fortunes were transformed after Roman Abramovich flew in one summer day in 2003, wrote a cheque to wipe out Chelsea's multi-million pound debt and bought the team. In the few years since, he has given a blank cheque to his managers to buy the best players in the world. Two league titles and 2 Cups (Carling and F.A Cup) have been all been won thanks to Roman's money.

    Soccer is not the only thing benefiting from the fortunes earned through the oil and gas companies that some young Russians bought at bargain prices after the collapse of communism. The Russian film industry has also been injected with an influx of cash and 2004's Nightwatch was an example of a Russian film modeled like a slick Hollywood production. Based on Sergei Lukyanenko's novel, the film was a fascinating experience which contained elements of The Matrix, Blade, sci-fi with even a tiny nod to the Russian classic novel The Master and Margarita (the presence of the black cat).

    Often in soccer throwing money into a team and buying flashy players does not translate into instant success or even quality football. Likewise, a big and lavish film production does not guarantee a good product, which is the problem with Daywatch -- cool effects, flashy set-up but lukewarm execution.

    Soccer as a source of distraction:

    In one scene, the main character Anton has to break into a building to get back his son's belonging, lest war breaks out. But his job is made easier when the security guards are busy watching a soccer game on tv and are not bothered to keep an eye on the circuit cameras.

    If Anton only knew of this weakness of the security guards, he could have scheduled his break-in right at the game's start and 90 minutes would have been enough time for him to escape. But as it turns out, he breaks in somewhere near the end of the game and has to scramble retrieving the important item just before the final whistle blows.


    Antimatter said...

    I haven't seen Daywatch yet, but my opinion of Nightwatch was mixed. It was definitely an interesting mix but its 'everything but the kitchen sink' approach was a little confusing and numbing!

    I'll probably check out Daywatch even though from the trailer it looks like people are chasing after a piece of chalk (!) and it has scenes that evoke memories of the risible 'Ultraviolet'.

    Sachin G. said...

    Yeah it is a powerful chalk that can decide the fate of the world :) I stayed away from Ultraviolet but there were quite a few scenes in Daywatch that reminded me of other Hollywood flicks.

    I am not sure if I had to see the first film again how much I would enjoy it. Back then it was a nice change but the second film adds nothing to the story.