Thursday, June 19, 2008

Football lines

A friend of mine just reminded me of this line from Gary Lineker:

"Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes, and at the end the Germans always win."

And that reminded me of the movie Lola rennt (Run Lola Run in English), in which one of the characters quotes the German trainer Sepp Herberger: "Der Ball ist rund, das Spiel dauert neunzig Minuten." In English, "the ball is round; the game lasts 90 minutes."

When Run Lola Run appeared in English, Stuart Klawans reviewed it in The Nation and concluded his review by citing the character's citation of Herberger: "Confronted with questions about meaning, a figure at the beginning of Run Lola Run shrugs and says, 'The ball is round. The game lasts ninety minutes.' That's a good answer, if your head's filled with the same stuff as the ball."

What struck me when I read that back in 1999 (when I still subscribed to The Nation) was that no German reviewer would ever make anything of that line. In the German, it will never be anything more than a throwaway line, a funny citation of Herberger that would at most lead to the ironic remark that the movie itself is 90 minutes long.


Anonymous said...

Does this mean that Germans do not
know/use the expression "airhead"?

-- dhsh

Andrew Shields said...

No, it just means that Germans would not do anything with that line in the movie, because they are so familiar with it that it simply would not cross their minds to use it to interpret the movie at all.

Anonymous said...

pretty accurate... it's like the English expression of 'it's a game of two halves'... football commentary is supposed to be mindless.