“Here the hand of the director is, in at least one key way, effectively absent: what we are watching is archival footage of a historic 1988 match between Bucharest’s two main soccer teams, Steaua and Dinamo. The entire game as broadcast on TV at the time is accompanied by the commentary of the director and his father, who actually refereed that very same match.”
“On the field, the visibility is awful as snow trickles down, yet devout fans fill the stands, partly because this is no ordinary game: The two minor-league teams are backed by dueling factions, the communist military police and the army, a tag of war in which Porumboiu’s father, who refused to let either team buy the results, stands as a cautious, politic mediator. Offering a soccer match as a metaphor for a fallen system that transformed sports into nationalistic pageantry of pride and honor, while secretly rigging games – and, politics – behind its citizens’ backs, The Second Game turns an ordinary, nostalgic gesture into a self-reflexive time capsule.”
“Adrian [the father] repeatedly declares that soccer is only about the moment, and that there’s no use in watching an old match – no excitement, no surprises. For Corneliu, the absence of any obvious entertainment value in the material creates an opportunity to imagine something that might be hidden or nascent in the images. The past may be unchangeable, but its traces invite interpretation.”
“At some point the pair hilariously comment on the directing choices of State television, which, in compliance with Communist ‘spirit,’ could not show bad sportsmanship and so systematically cut to the spectators every time a scuffle broke out among the players.”
“At times, the pleasure of the film simply comes from watching the skill of the players, and watching the match unfold like any other televised sports event, but there is also a hypnotic poetry to the blurred bodies and the distorted gestures and colors within the frame. The Second Game shows us how a space so un-cinematic can be made just the opposite, here with the play between a temporal neutrality, a sparingly casual presence of father and son in dialogue, and the push and pull between the match's relative insignificance, and the history it hints at.”
“‘Zou je hier een film uit kunnen maken?’, vraagt de regisseur zich af tijdens het bekijken van de beelden. Voetballiefhebbers ontwaren in het geploeter alvast een gouden generatie spelers, met onder meer de Maradonna van de Karpaten, Gheorghe Hagi. Ook puur picturaal biedt de materialiteit van de video veel kijkplezier. de ‘sneeuw’ die het beeld verstoort versmelt met de echte vlokken boven het veld. De krijtstrepen op het gras verdwijnen; VHS-lijnen boven- en onderaan vallen in. ‘De beeldkwaliteit is van het stenen tijdperk. Je ziet enkel schaduwen’, bemerkt de vader.”
- 1Giovanni Vimercati, “Festivals: Berlin”, Film Comment, March 2014.
- 2Ela Bittencourt, “Art of the Real 2014”, Slant magazine, April 2014.
- 3Olaf Möller, “As Time Goes by”, Film Comment, June 2014.
- 4Giovanni Vimercati, “Festivals: Berlin,” Film Comment, March 2014
- 5Adam Cook, “Berlinale 2014. Impressions Part III: Time as Depth & Cinema-Space,” MUBI, Februari 2014.
- 6Ruben Demasure, “Het beeld achter het beeld”, rooilijn, 1 (2015), 75.