Friday, September 28, 2012

Kuningas Litmanen / The King – Jari Litmanen

Arto Koskinen: Kuningas Litmanen / The King – Jari Litmanen (FI 2012).

Kung Litmanen.
    FI © 2012 Marianna Films. P: Mika Kaurismäki.
    D: Arto Koskinen. SC: Mika Kaurismäki, Arto Koskinen. DP: Tahvo Hirvonen - post-production: Post Control. ED: Jukka Nykänen. Featuring: Jari Litmanen (and see beyond the jump break).
    107 min. 
    Mostly in Finnish, also in English, Dutch, and Spanish.
    Released by FS Film with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Aretta Vähälä / Karin Nynäs Aspö and separate translators for Dutch and Spanish.
    Viewed at Kinopalatsi 1, Helsinki, 29 September 2012 (premiere).

A straight and respectful documentary on the Finnish king of football, Jari Litmanen, an attacking midfielder and a second striker.

Wikipedia: "Jari Olavi Litmanen (born 20 February 1971 in Lahti) is a former Finnish footballer who last played for HJK. He also played for the Finland national football team, where he served as a first choice captain between 1996–2008. His international career ran from 1989 to 2010, making him the only footballer to play an international in four different decades."

"He is widely considered to be Finland's greatest football player of all time. He was chosen as the best Finnish player of the last 50 years by the Football Association of Finland in the UEFA Jubilee Awards in November 2003. Litmanen also finished 42nd in the 100 Greatest Finns voting in 2004. The Association of Football Statisticians' (The AFS) compendium of 'Greatest Ever Footballers' listed Litmanen as the 53rd best footballer ever."

"Litmanen was the long-time captain for the Finnish national team, in an international career lasting two decades. During his club career he has represented Reipas, HJK, MyPa and Lahti in Finland, as well as Ajax, FC Barcelona, Liverpool, Hansa Rostock, Malmö FF and Fulham abroad. Once considered one of the best attacking midfielders in the world, he became the first Finnish footballing superstar while playing for Ajax in the mid-1990s, and won the 1995 Champions League with them."

I am an ignoramus in football, but I watched Kuningas Litmanen with great interest. It is a straightforward biographical documentary basically told by Litmanen, himself, with comprehensive interviews of important people in the football scene.

It's a story of total devotion and commitment since early childhood, about passion in training, about team spirit, about psychological forces behind physical achievements, about the eye for the game, and about the intelligence in grasping a constantly changing field.

It's also about fair play.

The most engrossing sequence of the movie is the account of the Turkey-Finland match.

The premiere is in the second biggest regular cinema in Helsinki, Kinopalatsi 1, and I learn from the staff that the evening screenings will be at least very full, much booked in advance.

The new digital footage, mostly talking heads, looks fine. The compilation quality with much television footage is understandable in a subject like this. The epic sense of audiences of 100.000 watching a football game is not visually evident but conveyed indirectly.
I: David Endt - I: Miska - I: Edwin Van Der Sar - FIRST HALF-TIME - 2010: the Jari Litmanen statue exposed in Lahti - I: father Olavi Litmanen - I: mother Liisa Litmanen - father and mother's background in Lahden Reipas - I: Tommi Kautonen - I: Gunnar Yliharju - I: Jukka Vakkila - I: Roy Hodgson - I: Harri Kampman - the shock of the cousin's death - opening of the Pajulahti hall in 2010 - 20 years of cooperation with Heikki Marttinen - I: Sami Hyypiä - Ajax 1992 - I: Ton Pronx - I: Louis Van Gaal - I: Danny Bling - I: David Endt - I: Louis Van Gaal - I: Dennis Bergkamp - Netherlands Supercup 1993 - champions league 1994 - the best years of my career - Ajax-PSV - I liked the Ajax playing style - Barcelona was a degree higher - the player of the year in Holland - not so fast but always right on time - Gaal shaped my playing style - I: Ronald De Boer - training after training: scoring 20 balls - a dressing room is a complex entity - stretching exercises - I: Frank De Hoer - Jari took stretching to the extreme - it does not matter if they laugh at me - Jari was copied, imitated, parodied - dressing room humour can be tough - I: Frank Riskaard - I: Mattheus Hemelrik - babies started to be christened Jari - Jari received some 50 postcards announcing this - Jari is not a Dutch name, but soon there were 1587 little Jaris in Holland - in the Netherlands I could be myself - Ajax vs. AC 1995 - ice hockey influences: moving to the right, scoring to the left - Ajax vs. Bayern Munich - the best of the world 1994-1996, unstoppable - championship league - allergy, fevers - Ajax wins the European Cup - three years in Ajax: that was the highlight - Jari speaking fluent Dutch - Ajax-Gremo 1995 - I: Jorg Van Lotken - a collection of Litmanen's shirts - Litmanen tattoos - a woman who was mortally ill in the hospital: I thought about Jari Litmanen, his never giving up: I don't want to die - HJK 2011: a mentor for young players - medical examination for the knee, an X mark on the knee - SECOND HALF-TIME - Ajax-Juventus 1996 - injuries - the team didn't succeed but Jari scored - only one red card during his career - Jari kicked a player whom he though had hit him - totally out of character - clean and fair play was typical of Jari - Jari was kicked a lot but he never kicked back - 1997: Finland-Hungary preliminary - a few seconds changed the sense of time and place - the rock bottom of the career - Ajax: many instances of injuries - "the glass man" - one month fit, another month injured - when injured, Jari was not mentally strong - the right ankle was badly hurt already in mid-1990s and should have been operated - the mid-1990s were the crazy years - painkillers - first in 2006 the ankle was operated on and tightened - training with fitness device - muscle injuries - the injuries became a bit of a joke - Jari was so often in the fysio room - I: Pim Van Dord - Jari had a bench of his own at the fysio room - 1998 Litmanen, Blind farewell match - Jari crying at the farewell cremony - these were wonderful years - the farewell speech in Dutch - 1999 he left - holding back tears - Barcelona: one of the finest stadiums in the world - can seat 98.000 - there are 100.000 inhabitants in Lahti - not a single little pit - I: Carlos Puyol - I: Xavi - he was always incentive - always a comrade - always committed - after a tough training - he took 7, 8 balls and scored - the sauna - Jani reminds me of the sauna - he visited the sauna without pants but with his soccer shoes on - every day he used old shoes of his - I: Tuomo Rokka - his family brought me ten pairs of shoes of his to repair - the same shoemaker since he was a kid - special customizing - special studs - Camp Nou - always in command of the situation - he always acted right for the game - the first season was difficult - injuries - the Spanish football is quicker than the Dutch - the club had no structure - I: Richard Möller Nielsen - I: Jonathan Johansson - Turkey-Finland - the stadium audience was not hospitable to foreigners - there was a furious whistling concert - Jari was badly hurt - the Turks played an ugly game - the feeling turned - it was a great match - I: Timo Walden - there was a standing ovation - the flag of Turkey - admiration over borders - I: Antti Niemi - Jari went to have a swim - broke a glass door by accident - the angry tone of the management changed when they realized it's Litmanen - in Barcelona Litmanen was a member of the team but he was not allowed to play except once - Liverpool Football Club - at the third request Litmanen accepted the invitation - I: Gerald Hounier - I: Steven Gerrard - his movement and skill was on a different level - never change a winning team - AS Roma-Liverpool - a bad fall - 2001 - the left arm was badly twisted - he continued to play but after the game it turned out that a bone was in pieces - after the adrenaline petered off - a long sick leave - Jari created situations out of nothing - back to Ajax - full of conflict - a ridiculous contract - the bargaining was a libel - the atmosphere was sticky - every day Jari was the first to arrive and the last to leave - the players were not taking it seriously - you should follow this man - I: Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Jari was big in Holland - back to FC Lahti - Hansa Rostock 2004 - I: Marcus Allgall - the first baby was born, he became a father - in his mind also - Ly Jürgensen - in 1992: my bag is always packed - the shutdown was pre-planned - Bundesliga - Malmö - the accident: his eye was injured by a cap of a bottle opened in the dressing room - his eyesight weakened at certain lighting and colour circumstances - the funeral: Heikki Marttinen - a second father figure for me, a supporter, a friend - it lasted 20 years - I have him to thank for much, the Ajax deal - I: Stuart Baxter - Finland-Hungary 2010 - Finland- San Marino 2010 - the last appearance in the national team - a change in the game, a mental change - there has always been something mysterious about him - how does it feel - I'm sure you can see it - the conclusion: the roll of honour of Jari Litmanen's achievements.

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