AAt the end of the film, after 120 minutes, they all come back on stage. Sebastian Rode, the captain, Kevin Trapp, the goalkeeper, Ansgar Knauff, Makoto Hasebe, Timothy Chandler, Daiichi Kamada and all the other players who helped Frankfurt Eintracht achieve their most surprising and greatest success: winning the UEFA Europa League in the May last year.
The film, which was shown in a preview at Frankfurt’s Metropolis cinema on Wednesday evening and will be in cinemas nationwide on March 23, reports on this outstanding success. “This year” is his name, the media department of the Frankfurt Eintracht produced it together with the cinema giant Warner Bros. After the screening, Sebastian Rode was asked what he likes best about the film. He replies that he recalls these “horny moments”.
When underdogs do great things
The film by directors Martina Hänsel and Björn Tanneberger is what literary scholars like to call a hero’s journey or hero’s journey: it tells the story of a bunch of underdogs lying on the ground who accept a challenge and ultimately achieve something out of the ordinary.
In the first scenes of the film, Eintracht can be seen playing in front of empty ranks because of the corona pandemic. And you see them lose. In the DFB-Pokal, Waldhof Mannheim, a third-division club, throws the team out in the first round, in the Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund is outclassed 5-2. At that time, the club had to deal with two serious departures: Sport director Fredi Bobic and coach Adi Hütter had left the club. And the team doesn’t come together.
Game scenes, interviews and choreos
But the competition for the European Cup is like a fountain of youth for the team, which is now coached by Austrian Oliver Glasner. In the group stage, they break away from Royal Antwerp, Olympiacos Piraeus and Fenerbahce Istanbul. In the knockout stages they beat Betis Sevilla, legendary FC Barcelona, West Ham United and finally, in the final, the powerful Glasgow Rangers. The film retells this success story step by step, and the crucial game scenes are particularly impressive on the big screen. But the extraordinary fans of Eintracht are also shown: how they cheer, sometimes almost despair, sometimes how frenetically cheer, how they ignite pyrotechnics and stage their “choreos”. And the players and officials have their say, reflecting on how the fight for the international title has shaped them.
Hänsel and Tanneberger shot the most beautiful scenes of their Eintracht film with Captain Sebastian Rode, on the soccer field of the South Hessian club SKV Hähnlein, where his career began. Rode was four years old when he started playing football. His parents came to the games to tie his shoelaces. “Like an addiction, like a religion” is the sport for him, says Rode in the film. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to kick the ball and become a pro.”
A look behind the scenes
“This Year” provides a look behind the scenes. You can see Oliver Glasner trying to whip the team into the dressing room during the half-time break of the Europa League final – in a funny mixture of German and English. You see the players celebrating wildly after winning the title, but also how they collapse in the airplane seats the next day and fall asleep exhausted. You can find out which underpants Sebastian Rode prefers to wear under his training pants and which camisole Kevin Trapp prefers to wear. You can see the jacuzzi and sauna where the players relax after their training sessions. And you think: The directors could have included a few more scenes like this in their film.
Instead, they rely primarily on the images from the stadiums, accompanied by dramatic music. That often comes across as pathetic and kitschy, is emotional and, of course, self-adulation. But, to be honest, the film fulfills its purpose exactly. For fans wanting to relive how their favorite team surpassed themselves in the Europa League, it couldn’t be more fitting. And fans who are longingly looking forward to it, this team really has more than enough.