In the Hands of the Gods

2007 British film
In the Hands of the Gods
Directed byBen Turner
Gabe Turner
Produced byFulwell 73
Leo Pearlman
Ben Winston
StarringDiego Maradona
Sami Hall
Danny Robinson
Paul Wood
Jeremy Lynch
Mikey Fisher
CinematographyMatthew Beecroft
Distributed byLionsgate
Release date
  • 14 September 2007 (2007-09-14)
Running time
106 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

In the Hands of the Gods is a 2007 documentary film. The film follows five English freestyle footballers as they try to raise money by showcasing their skills, in order to fund a trip to Buenos Aires to meet their idol Diego Maradona. The five freestyle footballers are: Sami Hall, Danny Robinson, Paul Wood, Jeremy Lynch, and Mikey Fisher. They have no money for food, travel, or accommodation. Two of them were actually living on the streets prior to starting their mission. Their journey takes them through North, Central, and South America and tests them both physically and mentally. It is a journey that takes them far from their homes on a trip that will change their lives forever. The title is a reference to Maradona's famous Hand of God goal.[1]

The film was made by Fulwell 73, a production company based in London, founded and run by Leo Pearlman, Gabe Turner, Ben Turner, and Ben Winston. The film was directed by the Turner brothers and produced by Pearlman and Winston. Lionsgate distributed the film in the United Kingdom and it was released on the opening weekend in over 60 screens, making it the widest-released documentary ever in the United Kingdom.

Plot

The movie follows five British freestylers from distinct backgrounds who try to track down Maradona. In order of appearance, they are Paul Wood (nicknamed Woody), Danny Robinson, Mikey Fisher, Jeremy Lynch, and Sami Hall. The freestylers fly to the United States to raise money for their trips across North America, firstly to perform on the streets of New York, as well as famous landmarks such as Times Square and Central Park. They travel to Memphis and Dallas, where they are used as half-time entertainment during a FC Dallas match. However, they do not have the money to go on a direct fight to Mexico, so they take a coach to get to Mexico City. The freestylers perform in different cities across the country, including at the Azteca Stadium, where the Hand of God goal took place.

After it is revealed that the group have only have enough money for two plane tickets, they are unsure on what to do. Lynch wants the group to stay together, but tickets for the five of them would cost approximately $3000, which Wood thinks is unlikely to happen in such a short space of time. The group decide on a lucky dip and have it announced by two strangers; Hall and Robinson's names are the ones chosen. Robinson gives up his spot to Wood, mainly due to him feeling that Wood is a better freestyler. Hall and Wood travel further down South America towards Guatemala. The remaining three go back to the United States, in particular to Los Angeles, where they perform at Venice Beach.

Fisher gets increasingly frustrated with Robinson and Lynch, and feels that they are not taking the opportunity seriously. He strikes out on his own, making money off-screen, as well as performing at a bar, where he earns enough to buy a plane ticket to Buenos Aires. Hall and Wood stay overnight with a Guatemalan family, and travel across the country in a back of a pickup truck in order to get to La Aurora International Airport, where the duo fly to Rio de Janeiro. They reach the Argentina–Brazil border by walking over a bridge connecting the two countries. Fisher goes to La Bombonera, the home stadium of Boca Juniors. Maradona is a fervent supporter of the club, and Fisher hopes to meet him at the ground. He talks to Maradona's chauffeur on whether if it is possible to perform tricks in front of the car to attract Maradona's attention, but he barely gets a look in when a crowd surround the car as it drives off. Fisher is disappointed not to meet him, but since the brief interaction is the closest any of the five has come to meeting the Argentinean, Fisher believes that it will still be possible. He also meets a woman named Camilla, who acts as a translator for the rest of the trip.

Hall and Wood arrive in Buenos Aires by coach, and are reunited with Fisher who explains the situation to them. Their freestyling draws a steady crowd of people, they meet Daniel Arccuci, a journalist for La Nación,[a] and are photographed for a newspaper article written about them. They also go on a television show, Fox para todos, which Maradona is known to watch and call in on. The taxi driver that takes them there stops by at Maradona's house, and lets a family member know about their appearance that afternoon. On the show, Wood reads out an impassioned speech in Spanish directed to Maradona. After the broadcast, presenter Germán Paoloski tells Fisher that Maradona was sleeping as he was set to fly out to Peru that evening, and Wood is clearly distraught having heard this news. They go to the Ezeiza International Airport in the small chance that they will meet Maradona there, however, Camilla speaks to his chauffeur, who tells her that the Argentinean would like to meet the three freestylers at his house. They finally meet Maradona, who embraces them, signs their shirts and poses with them for a couple of photographs, before he is driven off. Having earned enough money for two plane tickets to Buenos Aires, Robinson and Lynch arrive at the airport. They watch a news report documenting the others meeting Maradona; the final shot shows Robinson smiling, happy that his friends were able to meet their idol.

Reception

The review summary site Rotten Tomatoes shows 85% positive ratings among 13 reviews, and an average rating of 6.83/10.[2]

Laura Bushell of the BBC commended the Turner brothers' direction, as that without narration or on-screen input resulted in "a film that's not so much about football but about having a dream and summoning the drive and passion to pursue it".[3] Andrew Pulver, writing for The Guardian, praised the eventual interaction between the five men and awarded the film 4 stars of 5.[4] However, some critics were skeptical of the film's true intentions. David Gritten of the Daily Telegraph, wrote that "the story's climax in Buenos Aires is unexpected, yet many scenes resemble staged reality TV moments: group hugs, tears, mumbled monologues about overcoming obstacles",[5] while Time Out's David Jenkins awarded the film 2 out of 5 stars, stating that the "teary-eyed conclusion is clearly intended to have you punching the air in elation, but the message it delivers will actually leave you feeling quite cold."[6]

Aftermath

  • Hall had a short stint as a model, being represented by Storm Management.[7] He also appeared in the 2009 documentary Oh My God, where he spoke about his faith.
  • Robinson briefly reunited with Wood and Lynch after the film's release.[8] He remained on the freestyle circuit as late as 2009, wherein he went into coaching, and is part of the backroom staff at Pymmes SFA.[9]
  • Wood went on to appear in the third series of Britain's Got Talent, alongside his friend and fellow freestyler, Paul Klein, but did not make it to the live shows. He and Klein run a YouTube channel, although much of their material is now based on comedy and pranks.[10] In addition, Wood has run a sports academy in his name since 2001.[11]
  • Lynch went on to appear in the second series of Britain's Got Talent, reaching the semi-finals. He later met fellow freestyler Billy Wingrove and the two formed F2Freestylers. They are known for their successful YouTube channel, where they have collaborated with many professional footballers,[12] and have been involved in charity and exhibition matches, such as Soccer Aid and the Wembley Cup.[13][14]
  • Fisher went on to appear in the fifth series of Britain's Got Talent, but did not make it to the live shows. He has performed as an on-screen body double for professional footballers in various adverts, and was in an episode of The Only Way Is Essex as part of a speed dating storyline.[15]
  • Maradona was appointed manager of Argentina, a year after the film's release.[16] Under Maradona, Argentina qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup,[17] despite equalling a record defeat, with a 6–1 loss to Bolivia.[18] At the World Cup, Argentina reached the quarter-finals, where they were beaten 4–0 by Germany.[19] Maradona later managed clubs in the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Argentina, and until his time with Gimnasia de La Plata, had never gone past a season with any of them.[b] He was present as a spectator at the following World Cups in 2014 and 2018, hoping that Lionel Messi and Argentina would bring back the World Cup trophy since Maradona and his teammates won it in 1986. His behaviour in the latter tournament caused concern among football pundits, including Gary Lineker (who interviewed him in 2006 for a BBC documentary),[26][27][28] where he was shown giving the finger to hecklers below, before slumping in his seat and being treated by paramedics, following Argentina's win over Nigeria. Maradona is also the subject of the 2019 film Diego Maradona, which covered his time at Napoli and is directed by Asif Kapadia.[29] According to Kapadia, he had not seen the finished product.[30][31] On 25 November 2020, Maradona died at the age of 60, after suffering a heart attack.[32] Earlier that month, he was admitted to hospital for anaemia and dehydration, and underwent emergency brain surgery to treat a subdural hematoma.[33]

Notes

  1. ^ Arcucci is a recurring collaborator of Maradona's, having ghostwrote his autobiography, El Diego (2002), and has written other books about him since the film's release.
  2. ^ May 2011, appointed as Al Wasl manager,[20] July 2012, sacked as Al Wasl manager.[21]
    May 2017, appointed as Fujairah manager,[22] April 2018, resigns as Fujairah manager.[23]
    September 2018, appointed as Dorados manager,[24] June 2019, resigns as Dorados manager.[25]

References

  1. ^ "In the Hands of the Gods interview". BBC. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  2. ^ "In the Hands of the Gods (2007) – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  3. ^ "In the Hands of the Gods". BBC. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  4. ^ Pulver, Andrew (14 September 2007). "In the Hands of the Gods". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  5. ^ Gritten, David (14 September 2007). "Film reviews: Disturbia, In the Hands of the Gods, December Boys, Shoot 'Em Up and more". Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  6. ^ Jenkins, David (10 September 2007). "In The Hands of the Gods". Time Out.
  7. ^ Herman, Michael (14 January 2008). "Sami goes down a storm with a new model role". The Times. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  8. ^ "DANNY ROBINSON". The Hindu Images. 14 April 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  9. ^ "Danny Robinson - Pymmes SFA 1st Team". Pitchero. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  10. ^ "Woody & Kleiny". Retrieved 30 August 2019 – via YouTube.
  11. ^ "Woody's Sports Academy". Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  12. ^ "F2Freestylers - Ultimate Soccer Skills Channel". Retrieved 30 August 2019 – via YouTube.
  13. ^ "Soccer Aid: Which celebrities and players are in the 2019 line-up?". CBBC Newsround. 16 June 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  14. ^ Morgan, Ben (6 September 2018). "YouTube's biggest football stars to play in Wembley Cup charity tournament". Evening Standard. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  15. ^ Miles, Tina (23 April 2011). "Merseyside football coach shoots for the stars on Britain's Got Talent". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  16. ^ "Maradona named as Argentina coach". BBC Sport. 4 November 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  17. ^ Roughley, Gregg (1 April 2009). "'Every goal was like a stab in my heart,' says Diego Maradona". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  18. ^ Benammar, Emily (16 October 2009). "Diego Maradona in foul-mouthed rant after Argentina qualify for World Cup". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  19. ^ Bevan, Chris (3 July 2010). "Argentina 0-4 Germany". BBC Sport. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  20. ^ "Diego Maradona agrees to manage Dubai team Al Wasl". BBC Sport. 16 May 2011. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  21. ^ "Diego Maradona sacked as manager of Al Wasl". BBC Sport. 10 July 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  22. ^ "Diego Maradona: Argentina legend appointed head coach of UAE's Al-Fujairah". BBC Sport. 7 May 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  23. ^ "Diego Maradona leaves Al Fujairah after failing to secure automatic promotion". BBC Sport. 27 April 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  24. ^ "Diego Maradona: Argentine appointed manager of Mexican second-tier side". BBC Sport. 7 September 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  25. ^ Grounds, Ben (14 June 2019). "Maradona steps down as Dorados boss due to medical reasons". Eurosport. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  26. ^ Rogers, Martin (23 June 2018). "Diego Maradona needs to leave the World Cup". USA Today. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  27. ^ Davis, Callum (26 June 2018). "Gary Lineker calls Diego Maradona a 'laughing stock' after middle-finger gesture". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  28. ^ "When Lineker met Maradona". BBC Sport. 27 April 2006. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  29. ^ Kermode, Mark (16 June 2019). "Diego Maradona review – a gripping game of two halves". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  30. ^ Higgins, Mike (13 June 2019). "How Asif Kapadia became the great chronicler of tragic fame". BBC Culture. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  31. ^ Wray, Daniel Dylan (3 June 2019). "'I Don't Know How Much of Diego Is Left' – The Turbulent Life of Maradona". Vice. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  32. ^ "Diego Maradona: Argentina legend dies aged 60". BBC Sport. 25 November 2020. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  33. ^ "Diego Maradona: Surgery on brain blood clot successful, says doctor". BBC Sport. 4 November 2020. Retrieved 25 November 2020.

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