A gracious film about Franz Beckenbauer
World champion as a player, world champion as a coach, luminary – Franz Beckenbauer was possibly the best footballer Germany has ever had. A new film now traces his impressive career. His fans will love him, but he won’t be enough for Beckenbauer’s critics.
Dhe older ones among us still remember it well: a roaring stadium in Rome, deafening cheers – and right in the middle and yet completely alone a man walking slowly across the lawn with his hands in the pockets of his cream-colored trousers with pleats. He seems a little lost, as if he can’t believe what just happened. Franz Beckenbauer after winning the 1990 World Cup in Italy, like so much about this football icon, has something iconic about it. The fact that he once again won the World Cup as a coach, which he had already won as a player in 1974, is considered the highlight of his impressive career.
And with this triumph begins the film “Der Kaiser”, which is to be shown on the pay-TV provider Sky from December 16th. In the role of “Lichtgestalt”, actor Klaus Steinbacher makes his thoughtful paths through the stadium in this first scene. He turns to the audience and says: “It almost didn’t work out.”
Then a hard scene change and the film rewinds to the beginning. The world champion stadium gives way to the Bavarian petit bourgeoisie in Munich’s working-class district of Giesing in the 1960s, the celebrated world star Beckenbauer gives way to the unmotivated insurance trainee Beckenbauer, who would rather read the “kicker” with his feet on the desk and flirt with his colleagues than deal with customer acquisition to make thoughts. The film makes it unmistakably clear from the start that Beckenbauer’s life was always football.
A picture of Beckenbauer, which is probably the favorite of many fans
And because that’s the case, there are always arguments between the young Franz and his father (Heinz-Josef Braun), who thinks football is an unprofitable art and who doesn’t trust FC Bayern, where his son is hired. After all, Bayern only played in the regional league. “Who knows if they will still be around in a few years.” But Beckenbauer’s talent is so overwhelming that at some point even the critical father has to acknowledge that his son was probably born for football.
Director Tim Trageser (“Die Wolf-Gäng”, “Der Weißen Ethiopian”) traces the rise of the exceptional footballer to the top of the world and creates the image that many fans probably prefer of the “Kaiser”: a light-footed libero Genius on the pitch, light-footed bon vivant off it.
Problems with the tax office are due solely to the greedy advisor, his numerous affairs with pretty blondes to the “lightning bolt” that strikes the beautiful eyes at Beckenbauer – married or not. “Have you ever tried to become world champion and be a good husband?” Steinbacher says in the title role in his many mini monologues, some of which seem out of place, in the direction of the audience. The message: Nobody can be angry with Franz.
This gracious, loving, extremely forgiving view of the icon also determines the period of time that the film tells. Because it ends as it begins: with the zenith of Beckenbauer’s career: that evening in Rome when Andreas Brehme shot the Germans to victory against Maradona’s Argentines after Beckenbauer had said to the team in the dressing room: “Now it’s time to get out and play football!”
Everything that came after that fades out of history: above all, the ambiguities surrounding the awarding of the Germany World Cup in 2006, which later overshadowed the “summer fairy tale” and Beckenbauer, who brought it to the football nation. “I can see that it is now accepted that there was nothing, but the last few years have been tough,” said Beckenbauer of the “Bild” newspaper on his 75th birthday two years ago.
In the meantime he has made himself rare, hardly ever appears in public, has to struggle with health problems and the death of his son Stephan, who died of a brain tumor at the age of only 46. The life of the light-footed bon vivant has become more difficult with age. All topics that would have made it (too) difficult for the film and its humorous, light tone and which director Trageser may therefore omit. Or he simply wanted to erect a monument to the “Kaiser” in the way that most people still prefer to remember him today.