Trove to treasure | Marañón’s ‘Fútbol y cine’ makes marriage work between film and soccer

Chapter 7 in Fútbol y cine works through a long menu of movies about World Cups. The photo shows Colm Meaney in The Van (1996), an adaptation of the Roddy Doyle novel. (Page image copyright © 2006 Ocho y medio)

As the World Cup finals trundle on, we begin a limited series of posts on films, books, Web logs, advertisements, photography and other football-related cultural expressions that deserve to advance to the knockout stages alongside Ecuador.

We begin with an award for the best book, published in this World Cup year, with cover featuring Marilyn Monroe and Hapoel Tel Aviv footballers. To be straightforward, however, Fútbol y cine: El balompié en la gran pantalla (Football and film: The soccer ball on the big screen) represents the most striking book on football—on any subject—to come across our desk in some time. Which speaks volumes, because the text by Navarre native Carlos Marañón is in Spanish—traditional for books published in Spain—and his coveted spot for top football film goes to Victory (1981), the John Huston–directed star vehicle in which goalkeeper Sylvester Stallone has to be told where to stand on corner kicks.

“It’s not a great movie, technically speaking,” writes Marañón, in an interview via e-mail, “and it’s one of [Huston's] worst films.” Yet he adds, “It’s the most legendary film about football ever made,” suggesting that he evaluates films less as a critic than as a lover of the game. Marañón, 32, is the son of Rafael Marañón, the all-time leading scorer for Primera Liga side Espanyol and plays himself for a small Navarre-based amateur team, Erri-Berri de Olite (see interview in Diario de Navarra).

For the last several years Marañón has worked as an editor at Cinemaní­a, a Madrid film magazine. In this position he has been able to compile the close to 500 references to football-related movies that fill Fútbol y cine, but also by drawing on films “I have seen all my life.” The book contains a chapter on Victory and also chapters that arrange films by those concerned with the ball, with women players, with war and football, with national teams, with referees and managers and World Cups.

Marañón credits animation, video games and advertising with changing directors’ ideas of how to render football on the screen. “Football’s image has become much more modern,” he writes. “[It is] not only a sport for poor people or the working class,” but a game with which the affluent also identify. (Photo copyright © 2006 Modem Press, via Diario de Navarra)

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