The Miracle of Bern

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This article is about the 2003 film. For the 1954 football match between Germany and Hungary, see 1954 FIFA World Cup Final.
The Miracle of Bern
Directed by Sönke Wortmann
Produced by Sönke Wortmann
Tom Spieß
Hanno Huth
Benjamin Herrmann
Written by Sönke Wortmann
Rochus Hahn
Starring Louis Klamroth
Peter Lohmeyer
Distributed by Bavaria Film International
Release date(s)
  • October 16, 2003 (2003-10-16) (Germany)
Running time 118 minutes
Country Germany
Language German
Budget ~ €7,000,000

The Miracle of Bern (German: Das Wunder von Bern) is a 2003 film by Sönke Wortmann, which tells the story of a German family (particularly of a young boy and his depressed ex-POW father) and the unexpected West German miracle victory in the 1954 World Cup Final in Bern, Switzerland.

The film can be regarded as a portrait of post-war Germany. With over 6 million cinema visitors, it is one of Germany's best-selling films. Among those attending the première were Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Peer Steinbrück, Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia, and Otto Schily, Federal Minister of the Interior (a position whose holder is also informally known as Minister for Sports).

Plot[edit]

Richard, a coal miner from Essen, returns after eleven years of being a Soviet prisoner of war in Siberia. In the meantime, his wife, two sons, and one daughter have reached a minimum standard of living without him. When he is unexpectedly repatriated in 1954, he has severe problems in reintegrating himself with his family and country. His wife is running a small business, his elder son has become a Communist challenging his father's ideals of the Nazi time, his daughter flirts with his former enemies, British soldiers, and his 11-year-old son Matthias, who never knew his father, admires a local football hero instead, Helmut Rahn of Rot-Weiß Essen.

While Richard is initially very stern about Matthias' love for football, he gradually softens such that, on the night before the final, father and son drive to Bern to see the match.

An additional plot of the movie is the personal triumph of Helmut Rahn, for whom Matthias becomes a lucky mascot. Rahn, nicknamed "The Boss", has a successful record at club level, though is rarely chosen to play at national level in trainer Sepp Herberger's team.

There are several miraculous events in the film. For Richard, it is the sudden joy of scoring a goal with an abandoned football. For Rahn, it is seeing Matthias on the sideline that spurs him into scoring the winning goal. For Sepp Herberger, however, the miracles are more mundane: the sudden rain that slows down the Hungarians (however, German captain Fritz Walter tended to perform better in stormy conditions), but not so much the Germans fitted with Adolf Dassler's revolutionary screw-in football studs. For all Germans, it's the unexpected euphoria of a win that heals many wounds, becoming a symbol of the ongoing economic "miracle".

The real sports miracle[edit]

The 1954 German team, captained by Fritz Walter and coached by Sepp Herberger, won the World Cup in a remarkable final against the legendary Hungarian Mighty Magyars, undefeated for four years (Hungary had even thrashed the German back-ups 8–3 in the group stages). A determined Germany came back from an early two-goal deficit to win 3–2, with Helmut Rahn scoring the winning goal six minutes from the end of full-time. This was a euphoric event for Germany, which had been spiritually and economically shattered by the war. Winning the Jules Rimet Trophy by beating the world's strongest team gave the country new pride and is seen as a herald of Germany's economic and political recovery.

Awards[edit]

  • Prix du Public UBS, Locarno International Film Festival 2003
  • Goldene Leinwand
  • Deutscher Filmpreis 2004 for Best Picture (Silver), German Film of the Year, German Actor of the Year (Peter Lohmeyer)
  • Bavarian Film Award 2004 to Sönke Wortmann as Best Director and to Johanna Gastdorf as Best Supporting Actress

External links[edit]