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THE GOALKEEPER'S FEAR OF THE PENALTY KICK

Germany, 1972 (MIFF 1974)

Director: Wim Wenders

Joseph Bioch is the goal-keeper, and in the film's opening sequence he fails to save a penalty kick. He departs suddenly from the ground and we follow his actions through a series of short scenes. He looks for an evening paper and goes to the cinema; he returns and strangles his girl-friend, then goes to sleep for a short while. On waking up he clears off his fingerprints and quietly walks out.

The action takes place in a border village in which the pace of life has slowed to a crawl. The border is closed and there is little communication among the villagers. The school-master complains that the children are completely inarticulate. The policeman walks about with exaggerated care in case he should tread on a hedgehog. The proprietress of the inn waits endlessly for a delivery of new furniture.

Wim Wender's film throws into contrast the pointlessness and indifference of Bloch's actions, and his anger on the field when he threatens the referee for refusing to disallow the penalty goal. He is convinced of his own insignificance, his inability to act. As he says bitterly, the goal-keeper is the one player on the field whom nobody watches.

Steadily he loses the capacity to act. He leaves the village and tries to make a telephone call, but discovers the phone box has been vandalised. A bus draws up beside him, but he doesn't board it. Finally he returns to the football ground. where he explains to a spectator the tragic meaning of the goal-keeper's role.

'The reason the film's steadiness of mood is exhilarating rather than deadening is that it is the steadiness of a virtuoso tightrope walk between despair and a saving nihilistic humour.'

Nigel Andrews, Sight and Sound

'For once dialogue in a film is neither functional nor dramatic. It is instead a third element which has been added to the visuals and to the theme of the film. The story, as such, is told in the visuals, and the dialogue rarely advances the action; rather, it comments on it, and adds to it that extra dimension of dread which is also evoked in the compositions and set-ups. This is surely a new kind of filmmaking.'

Richard Roud, The Guardian

See also...

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THE STATE OF THINGS

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ALICE IN THE CITIES

German director Wim Wenders was represented at iast year's festival by The Goalkeeper's Fear of the Penalty Kick. His later film, Alice in the Cities, is a chronologically ordered film about an ... More »

WRONG MOVEMENT

Young Wilhelm Meister is on the way: from Bonn, past a castle on the Rhine, through a suburb of Frankfurt and on to the great mountain, the Zugspitze. He is escaping from boredom and dullness, and he ... More »

WRONG MOVEMENT

Young Wilhelm Meister is on the way: from Bonn, past a castle on the Rhine, through a suburb of Frankfurt and on to the great mountain, the Zugspitze. He is escaping from boredom and dullness, and he ... More »

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