The Keeper (2018 film)
|Directed by||Marcus H. Rosenmüller|
|Music by||Gerd Baumann|
1 October 2018 (Zurich)
The Keeper is a British-German biographical film directed by Marcus H. Rosenmüller and starring German actor David Kross as the footballer Bert Trautmann. Although the subject of the film was a sportsman, the film has been described as "not primarily a sports film" but instead a drama.
The film premiered at the 2018 Zurich Film Festival, and was released in Germany under the title Trautmann on 14 March 2019. It is slated for release in the UK and Ireland on 5 April 2019.
In 1944, German paratrooper Bert Trautmann (David Kross) is captured while fighting in the forests near Kleve. Transferred to a POW camp in Lancashire, he and his comrades are kept under strict conditions and made to work to repair the damage their country has caused to the surrounding area. Jack Friar (John Henshaw), a local tradesman and manager of non-league side St Helens Town, spots Trautmann keeping goal against other POWs during a trip to deliver treats to the camp commander and bribes the commander into allowing Trautmann to be allowed out of the camp, whereupon he recruits him to play as goalkeeper for his relegation-threatened side. The other players are angered to be asked to play alongside a man who from a country they are still at war with, but with little other option they agree to take to the field. A string of strong performances see the players slowly come to accept Bert's place in the team. As a condition of his continuing appearances Friar agrees to let Bert help work in his shop, leading Friar's daughter Margaret (Freya Mavor) to soften her initially-hostile stance, and the pair begin an unlikely romance.
As St Helens Town come to their crunch relegation-deciding match at the end of the season, it is announced that the war's end has led to an offer for the German POWs to be repatriated. Although Trautmann is free to return to his home in Bremen, he instead chooses to stay to support his side. After the match, Manchester City manager Jock Thomson (Gary Lewis), who has come on a scouting mission, approaches Bert and offers him a place in his City team to replace the retiring Frank Swift. At their end-of-season party his teammates present him with a hamper to take home to his family, but Bert's growing connection with Margaret leads him instead to stay, and in due course they are married.
In 1949, Bert travels to Manchester to sign for City. The press conference for his arrival rapidly turns hostile as the Manchester press - representing a city with a large Jewish population - demand Bert answer questions on his military background. Protesting crowds form outside Maine Road and the City supporters barrage him with booing but Thomson and his City side refuse to join them, instead stating "there's no war in this dressing room". At an acrimonious meeting with season ticket holders Thomson and the City board struggle to contain the fury of the city's residents but a passionate plea by Margaret strikes home with the influential Rabbi Altmann (Butz Ulrich Buse), who writes an open letter to the city published in a local paper asking them to examine all men individually without national bias. Following Altmann's letter, and with continuing fine performances on the field of play, the mood shifts and soon Trautmann is even being welcomed by players of other teams around the country.
By 1956 Bert and Margaret are living an idyllic existence with their young son John, while Manchester City's strong run has led them to the FA Cup Final. As City take a strong 3–1 lead Bert is again winning plaudits for his masterful goalkeeping, when a dangerous collision with Birmingham City player Peter Murphy shatters a vertebra in his neck and almost costs him his life. With 20 minutes of the game left to go, and clearly in a bad state, Trautmann refuses to leave the field and continues to make several brave saves, stopping Birmingham City from scoring any further goals and thus winning City the cup.
His joy leads to tragedy, however, as during his recuperation his son is hit by a car and killed. Their heartbreak causes Margaret to grow more distant with Bert, while he himself becomes convinced that his loss is a karmic consequence of his inaction when witnessing war atrocities in Ukraine, and the film leaves them still working through the resulting difficulties in their marriage. As the film ends with footage of Trautmann's continuing City career, overlaid text reveals that Trautmann would continue to appear for Manchester City until 1964, would be named the first foreign awardee of the English Player of the Year title, and would in time be recognised by both the British and German governments for his work in promoting Anglo-German relations.
- David Kross as Bert Trautmann
- Freya Mavor as Margaret Friar
- John Henshaw as Jack Friar
- Dervla Kirwan as Clarice Friar
- Dave Johns as Roberts
- Harry Melling as Sergeant Smythe
- Chloe Harris as Betsy
- Mikey Collins as Alf Myers
- Gary Lewis as Jock Thomson
- Michael Socha as Bill Twist
- Angus Barnett as Clive Thornton
- Butz Ulrich Buse as Rabbi Altmann
- Tony Wright / VerseChorusVerse as Ice Cream Man
Before Trautmann's death in 2013, Rosenmüller spent several days interviewing him about details for inclusion in the film.
- "Rosenmüller verfilmt das Leben der Torwart-Legende" [Rosenmüller filmed the life of goalkeeping legend]. abendzeitung-muenchen.de. 18 July 2017. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
- "German PoW and hero goalie stars in tale of reconciliation". The Guardian. 19 March 2017. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
- "David Kross to portray legendary goalie "Bert" Trautmann". screendaily. Archived from the original on 8 June 2016. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
- "Bert's still a Blue legend". Manchester Evening News. 29 July 2009. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- "From Nazi to football hero: the incredible story of Man City's Bert Trautmann". The Guardian. 28 March 2019. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- "Trautmann breaks neck in Cup final [video]". BBC Sport. 19 July 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- Wilson, Steve (3 October 2005). "A life less ordinary". ESPN. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- "Keeper of legends: From enemy to friend – Anglo-German relations could not be in better hands". The Independent. 6 May 2006. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- "Man City legend biopic 'Trautmann' begins filming in Belfast". The Irish Times. 8 June 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
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