Some of the stars of Blinder … Oliver Ackland, Josh Helman and Jack Thompson. Photo: Eddie JimSporting action scenes are notoriously hard to get right on the big screen. Even Pele’s scissor-kick goal in the 1981 epic Escape To Victory bore the stage-managed clunkiness common when trying to make footballers and a ball bring a script to life.
Glenn Archer, the former North Melbourne champion and executive producer of Blinder, admits his fictional Torquay Tigers footballers started from a low base skills-wise (with the exception of Bob Morley’s Nick, who can obviously play). An intensive block of training hardly unearthed the next Chris Judd, but as Archer says, “for local footy it’s perfect”.
Footyheads looking to pick holes as they would from their Friday night armchairs have lots to work with – arguably Blinder would have benefited from more film and less footy.
Players weave through packs without being touched by would-be tacklers, wonky kicks right themselves by the next shot to find teammates or the goals, marks are clumsily held as opponents swat at thin air. But this is just as it should be.
Angus Sampson’s full-forward, Franky, is no Jack Riewoldt and it’s not just his goal celebrations that wouldn’t pass muster in the big league. That’s the point; as Archer notes, Franky’s awkward kicking style suits his character perfectly. Only the notion that Tom (Oliver Ackland) and Morts (Josh Helman) could be bound for the big league is a stretch.
As in The Club 33 years earlier, the camera goes to places – the middle of a scrimmage, the turf at the players’ feet – that further distinguish the play from what we watch each winter weekend. The fire and brimstone addresses from Jack Thompson’s coach recall his David Williamson-penned character, and this doesn’t hurt either.
There may be off-field miskicks in Blinder, but in a footy-action sense, its charm is that it’s a long way from the AFL.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.