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MX News Update 2024


The British obsession with football hooligan films

Obviously, interest in certain films comes in waves, but in Britain in the 2000s there seemed to be a subgenre that dominated the country’s cultural attention. An obsession with the football hooligan film dominated the era, marked by a series of cinematic works that delved into the dark underworld of football while injecting a pervasive British sense of social commentary.

With its roots in Alan Clarke’s 1989 The firm, the football hooligan film explores the identity, camaraderie and violent behavior of football’s most die-hard fans, with such individuals providing countless newswires during the subculture’s heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. By the time the 2000s arrived, football hooliganism had largely disappeared compared to previous decades, so 21st century films with such behavior at their core were mainly glorifying in nature.

In Britain it’s fair to say that football is much more than a sport; it is a way of life, almost akin to a religion, where the most devout followers go to great lengths to prove their loyalty to their respective clubs. In 2004, Nick Lowe’s film The football factorystarring Danny Dyer and Neil Maskell, arrived and described the way the most violent fictional Chelsea fans make football hooliganism their entire identity.

Just a year later, one of the most prominent films of the genre appeared in the form of Lexi Alexander Green street, in which Elijah Wood played an American student who becomes embroiled in the world of West Ham United’s toughest hooligan company. West Ham would again be the subject of a hooligan film if Julian Gilbey was released The rise of the foot soldier in 2007, based on the true events of the life of West Ham United hooligan turned gangster Carlton Leech, played by Ricci Harnett.

Elsewhere, like Jon S. Baird’s CassPat Holdens Days away and Nick Love’s loose adaptation of Clarke’s The firm were also released in the 2000s, proving Britain’s deep-seated fascination with the football hooligan genre. Because football is indeed so popular in Britain, football hooligan films showed the grim reality of the sport’s most violent and die-hard fans, revealing insights into the dark days of the past.

However, the genre is also of greater importance, due to its ultimately British cinematic sense of social commentary. Movies like The firm And Green street show the socio-political issues that can lead to football in the first place, such as poverty, unemployment, toxic masculinity and social isolation. In that light, such films can get to the heart of the causes of hooliganism and challenge their audiences to confront their own behavior and change it for the better.

Furthermore, the hooligan films may offer audiences the opportunity to get closer to the action of behind-the-scenes violence, thereby providing a sense of physical catharsis, while also condemning such actions with the often tragic narrative conclusions. Sure, the football hooligan films of the 2000s can glorify the subculture and make it look appealing, but things almost always end in tears and bloodshed.

Yet Britain’s obsession with the 2000s football hooligan film proves the country’s interest in socio-politics, sport, rebellion and violence, much like Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange was detailed in the early 1970s through research into the protagonist’s ultra-violence. By showing the bloodier realities of football, British filmmakers highlighted the identity issues of the sport’s most die-hard fans while urging audiences to confront the worst truths about human existence.

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