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The Damned United (DVD)

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Genre: Drama / To Be Announced / Director: Tom Hooper / Actors: Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Jim Broadbent ... / Features of the DVD: PAL

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      18.05.2013 19:44

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      A very enjoyable film to watch

      Those familiar with football, or even geography, will know that Huddersfield do not particularly get along with Leeds, so been a Huddersfield Town fan I watched this film as a football fan rather than a Huddersfield Town fan, also been a big Brian Clough admirer, I was not around when he was managing however I have read a lot about him and really wish I was around to see him been a manager.

      The film starts with him been at Derby and follows him through the tough times and also the good times leading up to his short tenure at Leeds United. A very short 44 days for Clough, unsurprising considering his comments about Leeds before joining. I would recommend reading the book "The Damned United" before watching this film as the film misses out a lot of what the book manages to portray so it would be useful to watch this film after reading the book although I imagine the film will still be enjoyed by all without reading the book.

      I must say that the stand out point for me was Michael Sheen's performance. I'm not a massive Sheen fan however I felt he captured Clough amazingly well and was spooky at times as to how close to the 'real deal' he actually was. This film is a definite watch if you like football and even as a Huddersfield Town fan, watching it show how 'awesome' Leeds used to be, it was still very enjoyable.

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      23.04.2011 03:38
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      I wouldn't say I was the best manager in the country. But I'm in the top one.

      Brian Clough was an exceptional manager, renowned as one of the fastest talkers and most innovative motivators of his generation, he moved from the relative comfort of a Championship winning Derby County team to the country's top football club, Leeds United.
      Clearly Clough has a massive dislike of the Leeds United style of football, based around hard graft and bending the rules, alongside supreme talent, he makes his views clear in public and to his new charges, creating an untenable atmosphere from the first moments of his arrival.
      Based on the David Peace book, this is a fictional retelling of the real situation of how Brian Clough arrived and departed Leeds United in an incredibly short space of time.

      In a nutshell

      Decent football films are few and far between, they either end up erring towards following the fans (Green Street/ID/Football Factory) or have a mixture of the sublime and ridiculous (Escape to Victory with Pele, Bobby Moore and Sly Stallone!!!).

      This is a film more about a man than about football, it is based on one of the biggest personalities ever to grace football and is a fictional retelling of a real event in his life.

      The subject, Brian Clough had a big personality, the youngest manager to win the football league with Derby County, he had enough confidence in himself to insult everyone from Mohammad Ali downwards, that he coined his own nickname 'Ol Big Head' is a measure of the man, he is comparable to Jose Mourinho in the modern game a shrewd tactician and man manager who was possibly even more famous than his players.

      The films starts with Clough offering his and Taylors resignations at Derby after he can't get his way in a request for money, expecting the Chairman to beg him to stay he is astounded when the request is accepted.

      This film follows Clough as he leaves his beloved Derby County on a high to take over the notorious Leeds United, a team renowned for their ability to win at all costs. That Clough was possibly their most vocal critic during that period showed the strength of his self belief that he could join his most hated enemies and want to improve them.

      The film is as much a story of the relationship between Clough (Michael Sheen) and his assistant, Peter Taylor (Timothy Spall) as it is about his ill fated spell at Leeds. Before joining Leeds, Clough insults his assistant (A man widely accepted to have been the equal of Clough in Derby County's success) belittling him and demeaning him, Taylor decides to go his own way managing a club and Clough begins to realise that he has joined Leeds without his most precious asset, the man who made others believe in him, Taylor.

      Upon joining Leeds Clough immediately upsets the players further by questioning their desire and ability, in a jokey manner, however it riles them enough that at times it almost seems as if they want to lose just to embarrass him, that they do lose regularly after an amazing spell under Don Revie is obvious and as anyone who has read the book or loves football knows, this spell at Leeds doesn't have a happy ending.

      Acting:

      This is one of the strengths of the piece, Michael Sheen is excellent as Clough he captures the voice perfectly, gives an exceptional performance as a man who is utterly in awe of himself, most of the time. He cuts deeper to reveal the doubts and insecurities that start to eat away at the man and is wonderful, this is another of those performances by Sheen where you just forget it is him and it is testament to his skill and ability that he makes Clough seem both likeable and horrible at the same time, which is exactly how he always appeared when he was a Manager.

      Tim Spall is really good as Peter Taylor, he is simply a good man, a friend who has taken as much as he can from somebody he believed to be his equal, his desire to go his own way is the catalyst for Cloughs downfall and you can't blame him at any point.

      The footballers themselves look like footballers, rough tough seventies hard men, smoking fags on the training ground and looking to take Clough down a peg or two in training and during matches, Stephen Graham in particular stands out as Billy Bremner, whilst Peter McDonald is also excellent as Jonny Giles, two of the players thought to have lost most on Cloughs arrival, as both hoped to be the manager after Don Revie's departure.

      Jim Broadbent gives a solid turn as the Derby County Chairman whilst Colm Meaney is Sheen's equal as Clough's nemesis Don Revie, a cold stern man with little personality who created an incredible team and team spirit without ever really being loved. The point in the film where they recreate a real life tv programme where Clough and Revie rowed over their respective management skills is enthralling and exactly as the real interview was, Meaney puts across his dislike of Clough perfectly and is the perfect contrast to him, whilst Spall as Taylor is the perfect foil. There is a desperate desire in Sheen's Clough for Revie to like him, but the other part of his personality seems desperate to prove he is the best which simply upsets his predecessor even more.

      My View:

      The film is interspersed with real life clips and football which just adds to the fact that although this is a fictional account it still feels real. It really does bring back the seventies, sheepskin coats, jumpers for goalposts, cups of hot bovril and footballers who would need to punch you out to get a yellow card or a telling off from the ref!!

      For me the film is a wonderful evocation of a classic era in British football, the characters are brilliantly portrayed and the writing is smart and funny, whilst the film isn't anywhere near as good as the book and removes a lot of the harsher, more bitter elements which really made it work, it is still good to see football on the screen.

      The DVD is available in all good electronic stores, it cost us £1.29 on Amazon Marketplace and is well worth it.

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        24.10.2010 22:28
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        Interesting take on Cloughs brief tenure of Leeds United

        It is rare that a character like clough comes along an it is also rare that a biopic captures that character and personality in the cameras lens but in The Damned United Hooper and indeed the lead role Sheen fulfill the rarity.

        Scattered with his glory days at Derby County the film follows Clough through his 44 day tenure as Leeds United Manager, however it is the dynamic friendship between Clough and Peter Taylor played by Timothy Small which drives the narrative. It is also this point that makes the film accessable and enjoyable to not just the football fan.
        Sheen who shot to success playing Tony Blair in The Special Relationship, plays Clough with the same accomplished confidence. encapsulating the loveable arrogance (think Jose Mourhino) aswell as the strong desire to really be the best. Or at least better than Don Revie.

        The football scenes will no doubt bring back memories of mullets, terraces, and the odd spot of football hooliganism, they are used sparingly but well by Hooper never just as a chance to show more football but rather as a back drop for the whole story. The film shows a side of Clough which was never seen, always the self publicist, here at times he is seen as weak and unsure and reliant on Taylor as a friend if nothing else.

        I don't know if its the best football manager film, but its in the top one!

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        20.07.2010 00:29
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        The tragic days of Brian Clough's brief stint at Leeds!

        The Damned United is a film starring Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Jim Broadbent and many other recognisable British faces all about the disastrous 44 days that Brian Clough spent managing his former rivals, Leeds United.

        Through a series of flashbacks, we get to see just how Clough with his best friend and associate, Peter Taylor, lead his beloved Derby to First Division promotion and how their clashes with Leeds United always seemed to leave a bad taste in the mouth! This all begins when Clough is snubbed by Leeds manager, Don Revie, when the team arrive at Derby for a game. From that moment on, Clough bears a grudge against Revie and it comes to explain, in part, why his career at Leeds came to such a short and hasty conclusion!!

        Whilst at Derby, Clough begins to get a bit big for his boots. He comes to think that he can do it all and that his team cannot do without him, alienating the Chairman in the process, but pride comes before a fall and before long, what happens next goes on to teach Clough some harsh and valuable lessons!

        Even for someone who is not keen on football, this is a highly enjoyable and entertaining film! I had obviously heard of Brian Clough before and his outrageous quotes and know he left something of a legacy (he has long been described as the best manager England never had!) but knew little of his life and this goes some way into showing an insight into one of the most important and pivotal moments of his career! Sheen is awesome and highly believable as Clough and steals every scene he is in effortlessly! It is the first time I have encountered Sheen on film, though I have sen him give interviews in the wake of Nixon/Frost, and I, for one, am greatly impressed. Certainly I will be picking up more of what he's done!!

        If you are looking for a good British movie that tells a simple but effective story then this is for you! I am not sure how close to the truth or how accurate events depicted herein are but it certainly goes towards a good film that left me laughing and sometimes uncomfortable with some of the things that Clough came out with! His petty jealousy with Revie as well makes for cringe-worthy watching as you realise just how personallly things have gotten for Clough but there is something adictive about it as the manager eventually reaches a moment of humility! When we see real footage of Brian Clough at the end, this only helps to even more satisfyingly bring the film to a tidy conclusion!

        I really, really enjoyed this and would not hesitate to recommend it!

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          07.06.2010 14:11
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          Brian Clough versus the world!

          The Damned United is a film that focuses on Brian Clough's infamous 44 days as manager of Leeds United. It is based on David Peace's 1996 best selling book.

          Cloughie is played by Michael Sheen who has previously portrayed Tony Blair in the Channel 4 drama The Deal and Kenneth Williams in Fantabulosa for BBC4.

          The author described his book as "a fiction based on fact" but it didn't go down too well with Cloughie's family and some of his former players. Having read the book I felt that some of it did seem very over the top. Could you really imagine the man smashing up Don Revie's desk with an axe? It was good to watch in the film but did it really happen?

          Cloughie's hate for Leeds and Don Revie in particular is blamed on a 1968 FA Cup match between Leeds and Cloughie's old team Derby when Revie apparently failed to acknowledge Clough, claiming that he didn't know who he was. This seemed highly unlikely.

          Revie and Cloughie's sniping continued for a good number of years and came to a head on Yorkshire Television when Clough famously claimed that he wanted to win the league with Leeds "better" than Revie's best season.

          As well as his 44 day disaster at Elland Road Cloughie's earlier career is shown in flashback sequences starting at Hartlepool and then onto Derby County in the late sixties.

          Cloughie's relationship with Derby chairman Stan Longson, portrayed brilliantly by Jim Broadbent, receives a lot of screen time and it is particularly enjoyable.

          Michael Sheen is brilliant as Brian Clough who is portrayed as an foul mouthed, eccentric alcoholic with inner demons.

          Sheen receives good support from Timothy Spall as his faithful assistant Peter Taylor (although he doesn't actually look like him) and Colin Meaney is very convincing as Don Revie. However Stephen Graham's portrayal of Johnny Giles is a little bit weak.

          Generally The Damned United is an entertaining 90 minutes and easily one of the best football films ever made. Obviously not all of its content is going to be accurate but if you can get past that you'll get the best out of it.

          Incidentally one of the scenes featured as one of the "deleted scenes" on the extras sees Cloughie in the dressing room making one of his players dance with him to a Frank Sinatra record. Truth or fiction? Who knows!

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          31.05.2010 17:03
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          8/10

          The Damned United was released in March 2009 and is available on Amazon.co.uk for around £5. It was directed by Tom Hooper and has a runtime of approximately 94 minutes.

          It follows Brian Clough's (Michael Sheen) turbulent 44-day reign as manager of Leeds United when he replaced arch-rival Don Revie.

          Although this is a movie based around football, the main emphasis on the film is of course Brian Clough and his character. So you don't have to be a football fan to enjoy this. I am a football fan but Clough was from before my time, but this didn't stop me enjoying it, although I do have a decent knowledge of what Clough was about.

          Sheen puts in a good performance as Brian Clough, despite not looking anything like him. His mannerisms added good depth to his enacting of the two time European cup winner.

          I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and would recommend it to most people. Some people were unhappy about the portrayal of Clough in the movie, but I don't think it showed him in a bad light at all. In my opinion it just showed his will to win.


          Colm Meaney ... Don Revie
          Henry Goodman ... Manny Cussins
          David Roper ... Sam Bolton
          Jimmy Reddington ... Keith Archer
          Oliver Stokes ... Nigel Clough
          Ryan Day ... Simon Clough
          Michael Sheen ... Brian Clough
          Mark Bazeley ... Austin Mitchell
          Timothy Spall ... Peter Taylor
          Maurice Roëves ... Jimmy Gordon
          Stephen Graham ... Billy Bremner

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            17.05.2010 21:47
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            A TRUE REFLECTION OF A GREAT MAN

            Well this film certainly surprised me.

            Being a huge fan and admirer of Brain Clough I was against the film when I first heard of its release and very sceptical. However after hearing some great reviews from friends about it I decided to buy the DVD and how wrong I was with my initial thoughts.

            Michael Sheen plays Clough in the film and fits the role perfectly. The most impressive thing about Sheens acting of Clough is that he gets the voice spot on.

            The film shows a great insight into how Clough behaved in his time as a football manager focusing of when he was manager of Derby County and Leeds United.

            A true legend in the game, he was a controversial figure and this is shown in this film from start to finish.
            It reflects how Clough used his success as Derby manager to almost become his own boss until he pushed it too far with the Derby chairman Sam Longson played by the legendary Jim Broadbent.
            After his exit from Derby Clough took the managerial position at Leeds and succeeded Don Revie his arch enemy who had taken the England job.
            The film shows how Clough wanted to change the mentally of an already successful Leeds side and eliminate Don Revie from there minds. However this did not happen and the film is great in the way it shows how the Leeds squad rebel against him from day one.

            Another great point about the film is how it details the relationship between Clough and his right hand man and best friend Peter Taylor.
            A great working relationship which went from the very best of friendships to nothing.

            The film probably best shows how maybe Brian Clough was a lonely character inside. Only he knew himself due to his unpredictable ways.
            The film also has a few points which give you a chuckle which is a nice variety in the storyline.

            Its a shame there isnt a number 2 of this as it would be good to see how Clough became a Forest legend aswell.

            I would seriously recommend this film to all football fans especially those of Derby and Leeds.

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            14.03.2010 16:33
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            good for everyone

            The damned united follows the story of legendary football manager Brian Clough, Michael Sheen, and journey he embarked on when he took the hot seat at elland road, home of Leeds United.

            The early part of the movie shows Clough taking Derby county from the depths of the english leagues to one of the greatest triumphs in the clubs history, their league championship. In this early part of the movie we are also made are of the despise which clough is developing towards leeds utd. As an audience we are led to believe that it is due to Leeds utd cheating ways, bad fouls, diving for penalties and conning the ref, that clough is starting to hate Leeds utd.

            It comes as a surprise when clough takes the Leeds Utd after Leeds decide to get rid of the much loved Don Revie. From the outset it is clears that the players do not respect clough and do not want to change from the way Don Revie had them playing.

            This movie brilliantly shows the downfall of Brian clough while he was in charge of Leeds United. I think Michael Sheen gives a great performance as Brian Clough, along with his supporting actors and director give this film a very gritty feel. I think this adds to the spectacle as football at that time was gritty and wasnt the 'beautiful' game it is today.

            Overall this film was a very good watch. As someone who didnt really know about this story before watching the film it was very informative and helped me to understand a bit more about the character that was Brian Clough. I also found that even if you didnt have an interest in football this film is still good, it shows you the demise of several characters and relationships which is interesting

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              09.02.2010 16:16
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              Great film, well worth a watch for football fans.

              This film isnt a biography of Brian Clough's full life. To quantify genius would be difficult and result in a film about 15 hours long. What the film covers is instead a snapshot of 40-odd days where Brian Clough was the manager of (champions) Leeds United.

              The film has quite a good selection of extras, including a vignette of tributes to Cloughy. The "cloughisms" extra isn't quite what I was expecting however, it shows the actor portraying Cloughie saying some of his more famous qoutes, not the legend himself. (Yes, I know he's no longer with us, I mean archive clips!).

              The film itself is a good watch, informative and dramatic in a way that has BBC written all over it. There are some well known actors in there, and Micheal Sheen excellently plays the part of the man himself.

              Micheal Sheen is a fantastic actor in my opinion, he's played people as diverse as Tony Blair and Brian Clough equally as convincingly and seems to get better and better.

              For anyone with a respect or interest for Brian Clough, the film is well worth watching. And for Leeds fans, it tries very hard to explain the reasons for the fued between Don Revie and Brian.

              Great film, long live Brian Clough, and lets hope someone else makes a film about the rest of his life in the not too distant future.

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                19.01.2010 20:49
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                Very good film, not just for football fans.

                Cloughie, Ol' Big Ead, The best manager to never manage England. Think of Cloughie and you think of someone's Grandad with a big red nose, stinking of whiskey and a bit of a history lesson on a footballing legend.

                What you don't tend to think of is one of the most colourful characters in the game, ever, who introduced football into the world of media comments, quips, controversy and all that has now become part and parcel of the modern game.

                Based on the slated/lauded book of the same name, The Damned United looks at Brian Clough's ill-fated 44 days in charge of 'Dirty' Leeds United. The film also uses flashbacks well to showcase why Clough had such a hatred for Leeds, or at least in the writers eyes anyway.

                Sheen continues his superb run of recent years with his portrayal of Clough, leaving you at points forgetting it's not actually Cloughie himself on the screen. Proudly strutting like Clough did at his best, Sheen also manages to capture the much forgotten vulnerable side of Clough as he's rejected by the Leeds pack.

                Sheen's masterpiece, which is truly something else, is ruined somewhat by the awful, awful remainder of the cast. The Leeds players casting appears to have been in five seconds. None of the players look remotely like their real-life persona's, Billy Bremmner looks like Chuckie from Childs Play fame. I appreciate this film was probably low budget but this is really a stickinging point for me and left me disappointed.

                Overall though I couldn't complain about the film, truly great value for money and the time just flew by even though I had read the book and knew fairly well the history of the events it follows.

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                09.01.2010 11:30
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                Great film, well worth a watch!

                A huge fan of all films football-related, I knew before I'd torn open the cover that I would enjoy The Damned United. Having read David Peace's novel, I was familiar with the concept of the story, comparing Nigel Clough's fabulous success with Derby County and catastrophic failure at Leeds United. However, I was disappointed to note that the film failed to touch on Clough's time at Forest, other than via a brief note at the end credits.

                The film centres around Nigel Clough's personal relationships, and is portrayed brilliantly by Michael Sheen. The matches are depicted very well, and seem to breeze past the problems that many films encounter when showing sport on screen.

                The film is quite dark, and does leave you feeling quite sorry for Nigel Clough. Peace wonderfully combines fact and fiction (indeed, it has been referred to as faction) to tell a wonderful story about a highly contraversial man. I would strongly recommend the DVD and the book to any football enthusiast!

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                08.01.2010 16:33
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                Thoroughly enjoyable film.

                This is a film about the very short and quite disastrous term in charge of Leeds United which Brian Clough embarked on in the 70s. The film is unusual in so much as it focusses on the one major failure in Clough's quite legendary career, rather than the massive successes which he is perhaps remembered for more often in the press.

                The quite amazing Michael Sheen pulls off yet another uncanny take off of an infamous figure and I have to say he is yet to put a foot wrong in my eyes, this film further served to impress me with his adeptness at 'becoming' Clough for the film.


                Plot
                ====

                The film charts Clough and right hand man Peter Taylor as they become heroes for their success with Derby County football club and their subsequent seperate paths, Taylor to Brighton and after falling out quite significantly over it, Clough to Leeds.

                We are shown how the Leeds players refuse to play at their best for Clough, unimpressed with his refusal to pander to their egos as his predecessor Don Revie did and from the word go his ego and straight talking rub them up the wrong way. The film charts the short and difficult 44 days between Clough starting the job and being sacked by the club, before having to face up to his mistakes, apologise to Taylor and dust himself off to carry on his career.

                We know it is a true story and the use of actual league table positions flashed up during various scenes is very useful in framing what was actually going on at any one point. The story of Clough and Taylor at Derby is intertwined with the Leeds story as the film backfills how they came to be in this situation.


                Cast
                ====

                Michael Sheen - Brian Clough
                Timothy Spall - Peter Taylor
                Elizabeth Carling - Barbara Clough
                Colm Meaney - Don Revie
                Maurice Roeves - Jimmy Gordon

                These are the main players although many other minor figures are also portrayed.


                The Good
                =======

                Well Sheen as Clough for me is quite magical. Clough was a man my own grandad considered legend and I remember watching him in TV interviews many a time in the 80s during his amazing tenure at Nottingham Forest and my Grandad telling me how this man could move mountains. His mannerisms and his very distinct speaking style stuck with me.

                Having watched all the documentary footage in 2009 which was released in the run up to this film, I think Sheen's portrayal of Clough is very close to the mark. Sometimes it is uncanny how he totally gets the mannerisms, Clough had a particular way of moving his head when he spoke which Sheen has got bang on, the dialect slips from time to time but on the whole its impressive and sometimes I swear if you closed your eyes and just listened it could in fact be him.

                Despite the fact this is, at the end of the day, a football film about the game, the fans, the politics and the stars, I personally think even people who do not like football would enjoy it. It manages to actully be a story about one mans battle with his own ego, his downfall and his pride and that in itself makes it appealing to all.

                I absolutely loved Timothy Spall as sidekick Peter Taylor and the two did manage to capture the chemistry on screen that I do believe they had in real life.

                The attention to detail regarding the style, dress and attitude of the 70s could put Life on Mars to shame. I particularly enjoyed watching the Leeds team training in their hilarious (to my mind) tracksuits and poodle perms.


                The Bad
                ======

                On occasion I did wish that they had shown more of Clough the family man as it is my understanding that he did actually adore his wife and kids, despite sometimes being a nightmare to live with and this was not really portrayed in the film, minimal time was dedicated to the non-football side of his life which is a pity.

                The film is only 97 minutes long and it feels very short to watch, personally I would not have objected to it being a bit longer, especially if this would have let them round out his character a bit more off the pitch as I mentioned above.


                Overall
                ======

                A cracking portrayal of Clough and his time at Leeds - interesting, entertaining and very easy to watch. Sheen yet again impresses with his chameleonic talents and Spall puts in another top notch performance as Taylor.

                70s style abound, this is a real nugget of nostalgia for days when football players were actually scared of their managers and nowhere near the prima donnas that they are today. Clough's story shines through and the elements of him which will remain a legend - his no nonsense, speak as you find attitude, his complete self belief and his sense of humour all shine through in this film.

                I liked to see the way Clough evidently learnt some harsh lessons from his time at Leeds and took them with him to Nottingham Forest where we all know he went on to break records and become a legend. By the end of this film I did actually believe that what they said about him was true - he was the best England manager that we never had.

                Run time: 97 mins

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                  04.01.2010 01:43
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                  a snapshot of english football

                  The Damned United is a must watch for all football lovers out there, suprisingly it is also a good film for those not so interested in the game. This film follows the inimitable Brian Clough and his disastrous and short stay as manager of Leeds United, managing only 44 days.

                  Brian Clough is probably better known for his achievements at Nottingham Forest and Derby County, not his period at Leeds, but this film concentrates on the years between 1968 and 1974. The film looks at the rivalry of Brian Clough with the previous Leeds boss Don Revie and with his relationship with his assistant Peter Taylor.

                  Michael Sheen plays Brian Clough brilliantly, he is really getting a name for these kind of parts having recently played David Frost in Frost/Nixon. Timothy Spall plays the assistant Peter Taylor and Colm Meaney plays Brian's arch nemisis Don Revie.

                  The film runs for 94 minutes and keep well to the time period jumping back and forward between Brian's time at Derby County and his short spell at Leeds United. He wasn't the favoured replacement for Don's Leeds institution and didn't ingratiate himself well by publicly declaring the Leeds style of play as having been bad winners, driving a wedge between him and the players and fans.

                  The film is and excellent snapshot of english footbal of that time and the acting is interspersed with football clips.

                  This is an excellent film of a little known time of Brian Clough's career, a great insight into an interesting man.

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                    27.12.2009 12:19
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                    An exceptional Character Study

                    Cloughie was a managerial legend, a man who rated himself more highly than anyone else ever could. The Damned United is a fictionalised portrayal of Clough's short managerial period at Leeds United in the seventies.

                    Factually, at the time, Leeds United were the best team in England a team who weren't loved for their football but were respected for their professionalism and attitude to winning.

                    Question marks have always been raised about why Clough joined Leeds United, in the film the enmity runs back to a match when Clough's Derby County lost to Leeds United in the FA Cup, when they were a lot lower down the leagues. Clough was gutted by the Leeds Manager Don Revie's perceived lack of respect and the Leeds teams dirty tactics. This is shown in flashback in the film and in the fictionalised account is the spur that pushes Clough to his incredible success by buying new players and becoming determined to get to the top to spite Revie and prove he is better than him.

                    The film follows Clough in his relationship at Derby County with his coach and partner in crime (Timothy Spall), as they build a team that takes Derby County from bottom of the Second Division in 1968 into the first
                    division, with their rise, Clough's arrogance and self belief increases.

                    Throughout his rise there are elements through television or radio that remind Clough of Revie and inspire or push him to achieve more.

                    The film flashes between the sixties at Derby and his tenure at Leeds in 1974, initially he is despised by the Leeds players he comes to manage, as he has said a lot of nasty things about the club and its beloved Revie, who moved on to become England Manager. Clough's initial statement to the players that they should throw all their medals away as they won them all cheating sets the tone for the team, he praises each player but berates them for their nasty attitudes and cheating, which was something they were renowned for.

                    The film is based on the David Peace book of the same name and really does catch the mood of the era, Brian Clough and a successful Leeds United team who were admired but never liked.

                    I really loved the book and enjoyed the film too, Clough is portrayed as an ambitious egomaniac who is obsessed by a sleight from a nasty man who he considered a hero, to be fair Leeds United in the seventies were a nasty team who played the game outside the confines of the law and they needed a kick up the bum, but Clough too is portrayed as a man who is entirely self obsessed, ostracising his chairman at Derby County, his best friend in Peter Taylor and his players at Leeds United.

                    Michael Sheen is exceptional in the starring role, from the opening shots as he sings a song while driving his car, Clough is recreated in all his glory, perhaps to excess but he was a larger than life character who deserves a huge portrayal. Sheen's voice is spot on as are his mannerisms, he catches Clough as a cocky man with insecurities and foibles as well as mercurial skills.

                    Spall too is excellent as the nice, kind Peter Taylor, the balance in Cloughs managerial life, he was his right hand man until Clough pushes him too far tendering their resignations as an act of callous media manipulation, Clough is shocked when the board accept and Taylor walks away to manage Brighton. Their relationship is interesting, both want to work together, but Clough uses people, whereas Taylor wants loyalty, love and respect, their row when they go their separate ways is heart breaking as they destroy each other, both knowing they need each other, but name calling and telling the other how awful they are.

                    Jim Broadbent is excellent as an old fashioned Derby County football chairman, Colm Meany is cold and vicious as the unlikeable Don Revie, whilst people like Stephen Graham excel as players.

                    Clough at Leeds United is a heightened creation, a man who is clearly out of his comfort zone and creates a ridiculous persona to combat the anger of the Leeds players, at times the players question him, and it even appears that Clough is not conducting training, is buying poor players and in many ways appears to simply want to destroy the club he has been signed to manage, as an act of revenge against them, this is a subtext of the book and appears less true in the film, although you could understand why he might with the strength of hatred and resentment to him and his techniques from the players, board and fans of Leeds United.

                    Clough unravels, calling Revie, Taylor and others to blame them for his choices, he comes across as a petty man with a real rage and fear, but as we know following the Leeds debacle he went back to a club and helped them overachieve enormously.

                    The film is well shot, with regular cuts to clough-ism's and interviews, the football is fairly realistic with real looking tackles and shots and none of the usual ridiculous looking set plays, the seventies is brilliantly recreated too.

                    There is a real air of paranoia and loss in this film, as Clough loses his job, his relationship with his best friend and perfect partner in Taylor, the loss of a club he loved in Derby County and the paranoia of Clough in hearing the sniping of his players.

                    The end is exceptional as he takes on the Leeds United board during his sacking and holds his own and then we move to the infamous interview where he takes on Don Revie live on television after his sacking. The enmity between the two is obvious and was obvious on television at the time with back biting comments and rowing, and Clough like a child brings it all back to the failure of Revie to shake his hand at a game 8 years earlier.

                    I thoroughly enjoyed the film, it's a complex film, which is basically a character study of a flawed genius, Clough's relationships with Taylor, Revie and his players and Chairmen are brilliant and this period of 90 odd days at Leeds United are an interesting portrayal of a great man in crisis.

                    Colm Meaney ... Don Revie
                    Henry Goodman Manny Cussins
                    David Roper ... Sam Bolton
                    Jimmy Reddington Keith Archer
                    Oliver Stokes ... Nigel Clough
                    Ryan Day ... Simon Clough
                    Michael Sheen ... Brian Clough
                    Mark Bazeley ... Austin Mitchell
                    Timothy Spall ... Peter Taylor
                    Maurice Roëves ... Jimmy Gordon
                    Stephen Graham ... Billy Bremner
                    Peter McDonald ... Johnny Giles
                    Mark Cameron ... Norman Hunter


                    I watched the film via Lovefilm, but its available for £4.99 on Amazon and cheaper elsewhere, it's a great film filled with excellent visuals, great acting and great set pieces, the cast are excellent, the players look real and the eraq is perfectly recreated.

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                      20.11.2009 16:18
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                      Better than your average football film

                      "I wouldn't say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one"


                      Brian Clough was undoubtedly one of the all-time greats in English football. With an incredible 251 goals in 274 games, "Old Big 'Ead" deserved far more than the two international caps he actually received.

                      After being forced to hang up his boots prematurely due to injury, he took up management at the age of 30 - and was the youngest manager in the football league.

                      Few men have gone on from being great footballers to become great managers, but Clough's exploits surpassed any achievements during his playing career. Highlights included taking Derby from the depths of Division 2 to the very peak of the 1st division (now the Premiership) and then, even more incredibly, taking unknown and unfancied Nottingham Forest from the second flight and winning back-to-back European Cups.

                      Like his playing career, his managerial achievements should have led to recognition at international level, but Clough was, and still is, the best English manager never to manage England. He offers his own reason for this: "I'm sure the England selectors thought if they took me on and gave me the job, I'd want to run the show. They were shrewd, because that's exactly what I would have done".

                      As well as being a talented player and quite remarkable manager, Brian Clough was also one of the great characters of the game. Arrogant, proud, controversial and outspoken, though hugely charismatic, he was a man driven by his obsession to be the best. "Rome wasn't built in a day. But I wasn't on that particular job".

                      He had a love-hate relationship with the public throughout his life. Many admired him for outspokenness and willingness to challenge authority, in addition to his determination and ability to beat all the odds. However, as his powers waned, he unfortunately became a bitter old man, seemingly causing controversy for the sake of it. His comments on the Liverpool fan's involvement in Hillsborough were hurtful beyond measure and were also stupid and wrong and have left a deep impression on many people.

                      Despite his huge success as a player and manager, the most intriguing period of his career, and the part 'The Damned United' largely focuses on, is also his least successful; his 44 day spell in charge of the Leeds Utd team.

                      Leeds Utd were the dominant team of the era, and with long-term manager Don Revie having just left to take the England job, were in search of the best young manager around. Clough may have fitted the bill, but he was a far from obvious choice. An outspoken critic of Leeds and their bully-boy tactics and cheating, he had recently gone on record as stating that the club should be fined and relegated for the behavior of their players on the pitch. Furthermore, he viewed Revie, who many of the players looked on as a father figure, as his nemesis.

                      Distrusted by the chairman, hated by the fans and disliked by the players, it was a job that was always destined to spectacular failure. His standing was hardly enhanced when he greeted his new players with the following tirade: "You lot may all be internationals and have won all the domestic honours there are to win under Don Revie. But as far as I'm concerned, the first thing you can do for me is to chuck all your medals and all your caps and all your pots and all your pans into the biggest f***ing dustbin you can find, because you've never won any of them fairly. You've done it all by bloody cheating."

                      It seems a bizarre choice of career move for Brian Clough, and the facts are not really known. The film proposes that it was a perceived slight by Revie many years ago whilst Clough was still managing 2nd division Derby, when Revie refused to shake his hand. This seems unlikely; Revie was not known to be that sort of character, but since when has the film making industry let facts get in the way of a good story?

                      The important thing about the film is, although it is only loosely based on fact and twists events to suit the story, the personalities involved have been captured perfectly. Whether true or not, it is easy to imagine the eccentric, driven Clough taking a small thing like a failure to shake his hand (whether intentional or not) as a personal insult, to brood and obsess over it, and to see the chance to take on the Leeds job as an opportunity to wipe his enemy's name from the record books.

                      This is due to decent performances from a strong British cast. Michael Sheen manages a good imitation of Clough complete with his mannerisms and quirks, without making the character seem like a caricature. The only thing Sheen can't manage to pull of convincingly is Clough's sheer charisma and magnetism. It is easy to forget but, at the time, Clough was such a huge character that fellow motor-mouth Muhammed Ali was forced to remark "this fella talks too much ". It is interesting to compare the two recent bio-pics of these two stars; both Sheen as Clough and Will Smith as Ali manage to make excellent imitations without either managing to do more than hint at the iconic nature of these two larger-than-life characters.

                      Colm Meaney is a convincing Don Revie; belligerent, smug and rightly proud of his achievements at Leeds. Jim Broadbent as Sam Longson, Derby chairman is excellent and the exchanges between him and Clough, his manager, provide a bit of light-hearted comedy to the film.

                      Timothy Spall, as always, puts in a good performance and is hugely likeable as Clough's oft-abused sidekick Peter Taylor. Although looking nothing like the character he is playing, he is utterly believable. The relationship between the two men is pivotal to both the film and also to the real-life character's success. The two men have nothing in common except for a lifelong, all consuming, and at times unhealthy obsession with their chosen careers, but neither could survive without the other. Clough, ever the show-off and the front-man, never had the same level as success without his down-to-earth assistant and this was seen as keys reason for Clough's problems as Leeds. The fall out between the two, therefore, is a pivotal moment in the film and is handled with aplomb by the two actors. It is an emotional and moving scene as Clough again engages voice before brain in a personal and bitter attack on his friend, and we feel with him the remorse later as it all starts to fall apart.

                      Films about football have been pretty hit-and-miss in general. That is to say, most of them have been crap. This is more than just a football film however; it's a very human drama about a man's battle with his own obsession, jealousy and all-consuming ambition and how that effects everything and everyone he holds dear. As such, you don't need to be a football fan to follow it, although a passing interest in the game and the character would be an advantage. In fact, it may be an advantage not to be a big footballer follower; as a big fan of Clough's, I found some of the inaccuracies frustrating. It should be remembered, however, it is just a film; if you want facts you should watch one of the many documentaries about this fascinating man.

                      Director Tom Hopper manages to get a genuine 70s feel to the movie, and evokes the feel and passion for football in the era superbly. The film feels grainy and dated with a weathered feel to it that reflects the grey feel of the time, a time in which the national team had just failed to qualify for the world cup. The clothes, the cars and the props all provide a realistic and nostalgic reminder of a simpler age, when paying a footballer £300 a week seemed ridiculous.

                      The football action is shot fairly convincingly, though it is hard to shake the impression that these are just a bunch of actors having a kick-around rather than the finest footballers of their generation competing in career-defining moments. This problem is alleviated by including genuine footage.

                      Overall, it's an enjoyable watch with an authentic feel that provides an insight into what makes Clough, and people like him, tick.

                      The Clough family, and other reliable sources, have blasted the film and criticised it's lack of accuracy, and how much is true is not clear. Although clearly full of factual errors and huge assumptions, the film provides a fairly believable guess at some of the events that might have gone on and shaped Clough's life, career and demise.

                      Age Suitability:
                      Apart from a large amount of strong swearing, there are no concerns. The violence levels may disturb the current crop of Premiership players, but at least it's all kept on the pitch.

                      The DVD
                      Fairly new out, and hasn't hit the bargain basement yet, but you can still pick it up for £6-7, at that price it's money fairly well spent.

                      Extras:
                      Commentary
                      The making of - featuring interviews with the actors
                      Cloughisms - This is an excellent extra which shows Sheen as Clough in various interviews
                      Creating Clough
                      Remembering Brian
                      Changing Game

                      Summary:

                      Released in March 2009, "The Damned United" is based on the novel by David Pearce. At just 98 minutes long, it is short, fast-moving and punchy. It is also fairly well acted, scripted and directed.

                      Brian Clough was an intriguing man and this comes across well, shedding some light into what shaped his personality and his obsession with both himself and the beautiful game. Controversial and outspoken, his is one of the great stories in a sport that inspires so many.

                      From the glory of his success with Forest which will never be equalled, to the tragedy of the hunched red-faced figure who saw his beloved team relegated in his last season, already a victim of the curse of alcoholism that would one day destroy him, his is a story which deserves to be told, and he is a man who deserves to be remembered. Part of that story is told well here, but that is only a segment of the rich tapestry that made up Brian Clough's all-to-short football career and life.

                      Overall, it is recommended viewing for anyone with an interest in either football, 70s nostalgia or iconic characters.

                      As always, the last words should be left to "Old Big 'Ead":

                      I only ever hit Roy the once. He got up so I couldn't have hit him very hard."
                      (Clough on Roy Keane)

                      If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he'd have put grass up there
                      (Clough on how football should be played)


                      The river Trent is lovely. I know because I have walked on it for 18 years
                      (Clough on his divine powers)


                      Beckham? His wife can't sing and his barber can't cut hair.
                      (Clough the music critic)

                      Don't send me flowers when I'm dead. If you like me, send them while I'm alive

                      I can't even spell spaghetti never mind talk Italian. How could I tell an Italian to get the ball? He might grab mine.
                      (Clough on Italian culture)


                      I might be an old codger now and slightly past my best as a gaffer, but the FA would know they're safe with me. At least I'd keep my trousers on.
                      (Clough on Eriksson)

                      I want no epitaphs of profound history and all that type of thing. I contributed. I would hope they would say that, and I would hope somebody liked me.


                      When I go, God's going to have to give up his favourite chair

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