The Other Final

The Other Final


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The idea is so simple, the chances of pulling it off slim.

Dutch filmmaker Johan Kramer pondered the quality of failure after one-time footie greats Holland never made it to the World Cup finals in 2002. What if... he thought. What if the two worst teams in the world had their own cup final? He checked the FIFA rankings on the internet and there they were - Bhutan 2002nd and Montserrat 203rd.

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These countries could hardly be more different. Bhutan is a tiny Himilayan nation, tucked away at the top of India on its border with China, where examples of Buddhist tradition are in evidence everywhere. Montserrat is a Caribbean island, famous for its active volcano, where strains of the reggae rhythm can be heard throughout. The film may talk of the beautiful game, but it's the people who make it such an uplifting, human experience. Football is the catalyst. Without Kramer's concept, these countries would never have heard of each other.

Montserrat's national game is cricket, Bhutan's is archery. In Montserrat, they have lived with fear of volcanic eruption and grown accustomed to the damage caused by its ash, displaying a resilience, born of hardship. They have grace, good humour and a natural modesty. Things are never too serious with them, except this match, perhaps.

In Bhutan, they wear kilts and have a monarchy ("His Majesty used to be a very good goalkeeper") and talk of GNH as the country's ultimate goal - GNH stands for Growth National Happiness. They are a gentle, intelligent and exquisitely polite people, who speak excellent English.

The game is played in Bhutan on the same day as the real World Cup final in Japan. It captures the imagination of the entire country, attracting 25,000 excitable spectators. Typical of the spirit of the match is the Bhutan commentator's response to the Montserrat goalie's dejection after the home side puts one past him: "Oh, I have so much compassion for Mr Lake."

Kramer has made an imaginative, entertaining, personal and wonderfully positive film. A lasting memory is of a slim, tall, young Montserrat player dancing down the street, surrounded by a flock of kilted children, laughing their heads off.

If joy has its moments, this was one.

Reviewed on: 17 Aug 2003
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Movie maker sets up an alternative World Cup final between the world's two worst teams.
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Director: Johan Kramer

Writer: Johan Kramer

Year: 2003

Runtime: 78 minutes

Country: Netherlands


EIFF 2003

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