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Review: One Night In Turin

THE rest of the world must wonder why the English eulogise about Italia ‘90.

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Running time: 1hr 37 mins
Certificate: 15
Starring: Sir Bobby Robson, Paul Gascoigne, Chris Waddle, Stuart Pearce
Director: James Erskine
Star rating: 4

THIS week’s charity screening of One Night In Turin at the Odeon in Gateshead benefited The Bobby Robson Foundation while thoroughly entertaining the packed out audience. Sports writer MARK DOUGLAS was among them.

THE rest of the world must wonder why the English eulogise about Italia ‘90. Outside our beloved Albion it is viewed as an instantly forgettable World Cup – badly organised and noteworthy for the number of penalty shoot-outs contested by the dreadfully defensive teams on show.

It had neither the magic of a Mexico ‘70 or the moments of individual brilliance that underscored the tournament in 1986.

Perhaps two hours in the company of James Erskine’s excellent documentary One Night In Turin, timed perfectly to capitalise on the build up to this summer’s World Cup in South Africa, might put them straight.

Based on Peter Davies’ classic account of the tournament ‘All Played Out’, it weaves rare, unseen footage with a Gary Oldman-voiced narrative and a soundtrack bristling with early nineties musical swagger to chart the uplifting journey to redemption of Sir Bobby Robson and his unloved squad.

It is an unashamedly enjoyable hour and a half.

In many ways, this is a tale of simple heroes and villains. Gateshead’s court jester Paul Gascoigne emerges as the loveable rogue who supplies England with the moments of genius that lift their side above the tournament’s general mediocrity while the basic human decency of the great Sir Bobby shines like a beacon.

One moment in particular stands out.

Erskine has employed a lip reader to capture the words delivered by Sir Bobby to Gascoigne before the fateful shoot out against West Germany, a touching soliloquy that perhaps explains why he was so beloved by his players.

The tabloid press don’t come out of it well, portrayed as vicious, spiteful and baying for Sir Bobby’s blood.

That is a gross over-simplification but the headlines and prose of some of the red tops really are incredible looking back.

Sports minister Colin Moynihan is the chief villain, a blue-blooded Tory with no understanding of the game who encourages the Italian police to treat English fans with contempt.

Perhaps the film might have been beefed up by a few talking heads slots, which would have given the main protagonists an opportunity to expand on their roles in this particular passion play.

That was a tactic executed to perfection by Leon Gast in the imperious Muhammad Ali documentary Rumble in the Jungle, perhaps the best example of this genre.

But Erskine’s decision to stick closely to Davies’ book is understandable.

It allows us to linger over the moments that remain indelibly inked in the English sporting conscious – Gascoigne’s tears, David Platt’s volley from the heavens against Belgium and Gary Lineker mouthing to the touchline after Gascoigne’s yellow card against West Germany.

And it means he never strays far from the punchy narrative that made Davies’ work such a classic.

Voiced by Oldman, who’s staccato delivery gives the film a certain gravitas, it is an exhaustive account that is sure to get the adrenaline flowing before this summer’s proceedings in South Africa.

One Night In Turin is out on DVD on May 31.

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