Taking Inspiration From Genre Movies At The 2018 FIFA World Cup


As the 2018 FIFA World Cup gets underway, 32 teams have a shot at winning the most coveted trophy in soccer. However, the competition is undeniably fierce and the odds are stacked against most of these teams. With that in mind, every one of these countries has been forced to resort to unusual measures—to improve their chances, unify their teams, and channel the most elusive ingredient in athletic success: inspiration.

While we have no proof movies played a role in inspiring these teams, it’s entirely possible. If they set their sights on genre movies specifically, here’s a screening list that could help World Cup locker rooms swell with national pride and believe that even the impossible is sometimes possible.

City of God (Brazil)

This unflinching depiction of Rio de Janeiro as a violent, crime-ridden city may not seem like an obvious source of inspiration, but City of God is also a portrait of resilience and tenacity amidst fierce conflict, a relatively accurate recipe for World Cup success. At #21 on the IMDb’s Top 250 movies of all-time, it’s also the second-highest ranking non-English movie (behind Japan’s The Seven Samurai) on that list.

Run Lola Run (Germany)

While there aren’t any women on the German World Cup team, its members have lot to learn from the incessant urgency of Lola. Constantly racing toward her goal (a mission that’s repeated, with three different outcomes) she has no time for distraction of any kind, which is probably a good way to approach the world’s most competitive soccer tournament. Of course the German team will have to be even more on the ball than Lola, as it only gets one opportunity to achieve its goal.

The Secret in Their Eyes (Argentina)

Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010—five years before the Hollywood remake starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, and Julia Roberts—this thriller deals with a retired legal counsellor’s attempts to find closure after a past failure. With Argentina still mourning its narrow 1-0 defeat in the last World Cup Final (not to mention its similar disappointment in 1990), the team is likely to find some form of therapeutic catharsis in Benjamín Esposito’s journey through the past.

Shaun of the Dead (England)

England isn’t among the frontrunners at this year’s World Cup, but the team’s odds of survival are immeasurably better than those of Ed and Shaun—and one of them actually managed to live! More adept at cricket than football (aka soccer), their resilience in near impossible circumstances should be an inspiration to the English team (though its members would be wise to find a more sober, non-violent route to victory).

Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico)

While this 2006 triumph is set in post-Civil War Spain, it sprang from the imagination of celebrated Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. With Mexico’s odds of World Cup victory currently hovering around 100/1, the team will need a miracle to go all the way. As a result, it’s probably best that the players devote their attention to movies in the fantasy realm. The outcome of Pan’s Labyrinth is more tragic than uplifting, but if the Mexican team stops the film a little early its members might be inspired to embrace the power of imagination in the face of grim, foreboding reality.

You can catch coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on TSN and CTV.