Some movies are harder to judge objectively than others. The title of this behind-the-scenes doc about the German soccer team during the 2006 World Cup translates as “Germany: A Summer’s Fairy Tale.” In case you didn’t follow it, nobody expected much from them, but expat coach Jürgen Klinsmann brought a sunny California attitude that somehow clicked and led the team on an extraordinary series of wins which sent the country into an ekstatischen Freudestaumel. From what I am told, Germany had not seen such wholesome national joy since–ever.

As you might imagine, a movie about a transformative event in the old country can infect an exile like me with a particularly nasty strain of homesickness, a complicated emotion that combines longing with cringing overfamiliarity. As much as I liked listening to the players’ unaffected German, did they really have to play “Marmor Stein und Eisen bricht” on the bus?  And who was that dismal no-flow rapper on the Fanmeile?

Poor musical choices and personal issues with the Vaterland aside, Deutschland: Ein Sommermärchen offers a privileged peek at the world of high-powered sports with their team psychologists, penalty shoot experts, and visits from Frau Bundeskanzler. There are even a couple of nekkid shower scenes, and Klinsmann’s rousing half-time speeches are something to behold. I was riveted by Deutschland: Ein Sommermärchen, but it’s difficult to know if I would have found it half as charming if it had been a movie about the Canadian curling team.

The Sommermärchen ended with the semi-finals against Italy, a match that carries its own set of bad memories for me. I watched some of the games at Zum Schneider, but for the semi-finals, I was at Astoria Beer Garden, and in the general madness after the second goal, my Moleskine disappeared. The team might have lost the Cup that day, but I lost my notebook, and I’m still not over it.

Deutschland: Ein Sommermärchen. Sönke Wortmann, 2006. ****

[tags]film, deutschland, expats, german, 4 stars, trailer, youtube, fussball, astoria, jurgen, soccer, moleskine, astoria, beer garden, zum schneider, ilja richter, disco, drafi deutscher, sönke wortmann[/tags]