(Last updated September 15, 2019)

The Guardian biopic (OT: Trautmann) tells the true and moving story of a former German soldier from World War II who arrives in England as a prisoner of war but then becomes one of the most beloved British football heroes of all time….

History

The Guardian began in 1944, during World War II. World War II is almost over and German soldier Bert Trautmann (David Cross) arrives at a prisoner of war camp in Lancashire, England.

Trautmann, born and raised in the city of Bremen in northern Germany, joined the Wehrmacht in 1941 at the age of 17. Trautmann had previously been completely indoctrinated by Nazi ideology. But the terrible experiences during the war have changed Bert Trautmann and he must now grapple with both his own trauma and that of the German nation.

In the POW camp Trautmann regularly played football with other German soldiers. It didn’t take long for the coach of the local soccer club to realize his exceptional talent as a goalkeeper.

The scene from The Guardian. SquareOne Entertainment

He originally started playing at a small local club called City of Saint Helena, explains actor David Cross in our interview in Berlin. But because he was so good, he was quickly transferred to a bigger club. Manchester City. When that happened, he took to the big stage and 20,000 people took to the streets to protest him. They could not understand that shortly after the war a German was asked to play for an English team. But Troutman kept his cool and persevered until the English finally fell in love with him.

More information can be found here:
Football, movies and going to the movies: My interview with David Cross

The scene from The Guardian. SquareOne Entertainment

The Guardian also tells the story of the growing love between Bert and Margaret (Freya Mavor), who is the daughter of Trautmann’s first football coach at St Helens and was initially one of the most despised members of the German enemy’s family.

David Cross recalled: I liked that there were two sides to the Troutman story. On the one hand, there was the physical challenge of playing football as accurately as possible. On the other hand, there was that range of emotions with all that guilt and forgiveness, told through the love story between Bert and his wife Margaret.

Bert and Margaret. SquareOne Entertainment

Firing sites

Although the film was shot in the north of England, most of it is set in and around the city of Belfast in Northern Ireland, including the beach where Troutman, his wife and son took refuge during their journey.

When filming was finished, the crew moved to Bavaria, Germany. Here at the Rosenaustadion in Augsburg, the huge stage of the 1956 FA Cup Final, which was actually held at Wembley Stadium in London, has been recreated.

In real life Burt Troutman broke his neck in the final of this cup, just like in the movie, but he kept on playing and eventually managed to win the cup with his Manchester City team.

Finally, the Glockenbachviertel in Munich proved the ideal setting for the small family grocery store where Trautmann’s wife Margaret works.

Burt’s on the beach. SquareOne Entertainment

My final decision:

When you watch the Guardian trailer, you think you’ve seen it all: A German war foe becomes a hero of British football, he gets the girl back, he continues his career in the courts and everyone lives happily ever after.

But, uh..: Halfway through the film, Burt Troutman’s personal life takes a shocking turn…. And then David Cross really starts to shine and show his exceptional acting talent.

Overall, I felt that The Keeper went beyond the usual World War II romantic drama by intelligently integrating a love story, sports biography, and breaking stereotypes into a moving story.

**** 4 stars out of 5

What do you think of the Guardian? Let me know in the comments below!

More information can be found here:
Football, movies and movie nights: My interview with David Cross

 

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