Soccer as Never Before [Fussball wie noch nie] (1970, 16mm on video, Germany) 105 min.
Directed by Hellmuth Costard. With George Best and the players of Manchester United and Coventry. DVD courtesy Goethe Institute.
On September 12, 1970, Manchester United beat Coventry 2-0. A record was preserved of the match that was [until recently – See Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno’s 2006 variant Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait] unique in the history of film and television. Using eight 16mm cameras, Costard followed every move, over the course of the match’s ninety minutes, of the man in the red #11 jersey, the mercurial George Best. As a reviewer commented at the time, the film’s concentration on one player actually shows “the true extent to which the sport is all about teamwork.”
“The real Warholian moment of soccer cinema is Hellmuth Costard’s film Fussball wie nochnie (Soccer as Never Before, 1970). A point of reference for Zidane…, the film takes the famously charming George Best as its subject and edits multiple camera views to produce a real-time portrait of the player singled out during the course of an entire match. Lest we miss the homoerotic subtext of soccer art (and soccer culture), the half-time interval features a cruisey bit of filmmaking as we follow Best through a narrow hallway and into what looks like the boot room. Best turns and faces the camera for nearly three minutes. He holds our gaze as long as he can, pursing his lips, looking away and then back in a seemingly overt homage to the Warholian screen test. Best strikes a deal here with the camera, inviting us to look at him when he takes the field again; shots of his socks, his shoulders and his crotch seem to go on for ever.” (Jennifer Doyle, Frieze)