Customer Reviews: History of Soccer: The Beautiful Game
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on January 8, 2005
This 6 DVD box set is titled, "History of Soccer: The Beautiful Game" on the outer package, but in fact, the documentary is actually called "History of FOOTBALL," so I will be using the word "football" to describe this great game, as it should be called.

At any rate, this is a very meticulous package. It contains the first ever, motion picture of football. Film footage of the 1901 FA Cup Final between Spurs and Sheffield United. Every World Cup final goal ever scored. And these are just the EXTRAS.

The real show is the documentary, narrated wonderfully by Terence Stamp. It starts from the beginning, where a multitude of cultures and nations began to kick a ball around, and it moves through every significant event that has shaped the football world since.

There is the Soccer War, where an actual war was started as a result of a football match.

There is the Moscow Dynamo team, captured in Nazi-occupied Russia, whose exploits against Nazis in a concentration camp were the stuff of communist legend, but are revealed to have been less than legendary now that the truth can be told.

There are the giants of club football, such as Manchester United and Liverpool on the England side, Juventus, Milan, and Inter on the Italian side, Real Madrid and Barcelona on the Spanish side, and many others. And there is even a look at the darker side of the game, such as hooliganism, various victims of air crashes, and the horrendous Hillsborough tragedy.

A spotlight is shone on every football-loving nation, from England, where the game's governing body was founded, Italy, Brazil, Spain, Holland, Germany, Russia, and many more.

There is tragedy and triumph, elation and dejection at every moment. Scores of interviews from actual participants of many matches lends a human side to every story, and if you love this game of football, you will eat this DVD series up like I did.

Buy this if you are curious. Buy this if you are a fan. But most of all, buy this because it is a quality piece of documentary work with so many extras that it will take you a long time to complete viewing the entire set. You won't regret it.
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on December 3, 2003
HOS is certainly an ambitious series. With hundreds of teams, leagues & countries playing the game, there'll always be omissions. Many of the topics they chose to cover deal with social and political issues surrounding the game's development. They certainly give due respect to the giants of the game. However, they seem to have spent most of their budget on World Cup highlights as there's very little club football in the shows.
Despite the sometimes arrogant commentary and questionable generalizations (such as the howler that the Soviet sport system didn't produce champions in team sports), HOS is a useful addition to any fan's collection.
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on November 1, 2003
A lavish production by people who clearly love Soccer, this is probably the best sport documentary series ever produced and worth every cent.
The DVD box set contains a 13-episode documentary series exploring various aspects of Soccer's development and cultural significance as well as its greatest moments, and a whole slew of extras featuring *hours* of match highlights, extended interviews, more featurettes, biographies and even some easter eggs, little silent documentary films showing various regions' passion for the game. The production values are absolutely fantastic, equaling any of the Ken Burns documentary series. The range of interviews is staggering - lengthy and utterly engrossing chats with the likes of di Stefano, Maradona, Pele, Menotti, Sandro Mazzola and Jurgen Klinsmann to name just a few.
Absorbing, fascinating, well made and well worth it. Five out of five.
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on January 5, 2007
How ironic the subtitle! "The Beautiful Game." Beauty? Game? Where? If you consider high production values, a slowly building symphonic sound track, repeated close-ups of late afternoon sun-dappled water, or long shots of British dock yards beautiful, then perhaps there is "beauty" in this video. If a few select shots of crucial world cup and European championship goals, after lengthy commentary by ex-players and coaches, is your idea of "game," then perhaps there is game as well. But if one is looking for a video that actually SHOWS the beautiful game, this is definitely not it.

And what about the "History" part? Even for the academic with a high tolerance for boredom this video falls short. Its history and analysis is superficial for anyone with much knowledge of the game.

So much superficial discussion of historic teams, so much slow-building pseudo-dramatic music, so little real analysis off the field, so little sustained footage of action on the field. Ultimately, the video fails to be either a history of soccer (too superficial) or a depiction of "the beautiful game" (no sustained footage).

Perhaps the video's most embarrassing moment comes in the analysis that one interviewee provides of the failures of soccer in the United States. The game, he argues, will never catch on in the U.S. because it is too low scoring, because American audiences, who only understand goals, will never learn to appreciate the nuances of the game. Bitter irony. The viewer watches in disbelief as the producers of the video then go on to show us nothing BUT the scores of Pele, George Best, and the rest of the NASL stars of the 1970s! And so it goes throughout the series. Only goals. So much celebration of Hungary's passing attack but only goals. So much discussion of Holland's total game, but no footage of it in action. So much talk about France's 1998 World Cup winner, but not a single shot of Zidane so much as passing the ball, let alone dribbling. If the game is beautiful for reasons other than scoring, where is the footage of that beauty? Of course, the irony (favorite word for this review) is that most soccer highlight shows are exactly the same. Talk, talk, talk about the beautiful game, but if you actually wish to illustrate the concept to the skeptical and undereducated North American masses, there seems to be nowhere to turn. Unfortunately, this dreadfully slow video, for all its high production values, is not the answer.

Check it out from your local library. Don't spend the money.

And please tell me where the video that actually illustrates and analyzes the "beautiful game" is to be found.
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on August 2, 2014
My husband loves this collection. He asked for it for Christmas, and he has really enjoyed it. It goes into fascinating detail about the history of soccer in several different countries, and while I'm not as obsessed with soccer as he is, it is quite interesting. It touches on many historical periods, eg Fascism, etc. Very interesting.
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on September 29, 2013
The production quality is pretty good for the first several episodes, but it leaves so much to be desired with regard to team strategy, transfer markets, player development, and other specific phenomena of modern soccer. For example, I would've loved an entire episode dedicated to soccer academies, youth teams, etc. There's just a lot about soccer that you won't find here, but I don't know of any other dvd series that comes close, which is a crying shame.
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The History of Soccer (Football); The Beautiful Game, is a wonderful set. Its cinematography is outstanding and the narration is very good. The extras are very cool as well (my one complaint is that the type on the bios is a bit small. I liken it to a survey course at university such as a History 101 or 102 course. It is not overall comprehensive but is comprehensive in giving us an understanding of the game from its earliest origins to the modern game all the way up to the 2002 World Cup. Each DVD contains two one hour segments on a different historical theme of the history of soccer, and some extras.

So much is covered hear, from the early origins, a Greek game that the romans adapted to a sort of ruby game that was preserved by both the Italians and the English to the modern games of Rugby and Football. In Soccer cultures the USA (a nice segment on the NASL is included) and Iran are covered as well as Asia and more. From the European superpowers (Italy, France, Germany, Holland, etc.,) to the South American Superpowers, with a whole segment featured on Brazil as well. From Clubs teams to the fans. From Superstars to the Media. And finally the growth in Africa. We get a pretty comprehensive look at the World Cup and good locks at the Europeans championships. All the superstars are hear, the great coaches, the great teams and the scandals are covered too. The different strategies and how they developed are discussed, as well as how the game spread to the fans. And how are why its so important to the fans. Also the political climates are discussed, as pertaining to the development of Soccer, in each country, in which politics has effected the game. Such as Fascism in Europe and a Dictatorship in Brazil.

This is a great set and a great starting place for the novice fan and long time fan of Soccer (Football).
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on April 23, 2005
Excellent DVD that shows the evolution of football. Not for those who want to see lots of highlights, they are scarce and between 1900-1980 for the most part.
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on December 21, 2011
First saw this on TV and thought it amazing. Watched it on DVD and not so much. The extras are not superb. Some are great but why the clips of European Championship Finals end at 1976 is beyond me.

The focus in some episodes on minor areas like soccer in India is bizarre.

Overall, it is great to watch but given the YouTube era where so many better clips are available, you're really just buying something for the neophyte who needs an overview of how soccer became huge. Enough with the interview clips and more game action, please.
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on August 9, 2005
From a global perspective, this documentary series has a glaring omission; it failed to give the viewers the development of soccer in the Oceanic region. If only this documentary had mentioned about the absolute dominance of soccer in New Zealand and other Oceanic countries (in the confederation of Oceania), this DVD would truly be called a compendium of international soccer. Its failure to mention the confederation of Oceania (a common occurrence in soccer literature as well!) and the development of the game in that region shows us that FIFA and soccer commentaries and journalists have still a long way to go before being truly global in their perception of this beautiful game. In fact, one of the producers, Guy Oliver (author of the classic encyclopedic book "The Guinness Book of World Soccer") repeats this same mistake in this series. Soccer is NOT ONLY about the winners and famous soccer nations and clubs. The soul of this mesmerizing sport lies with the smaller clubs and obscure soccer nations such as Aruba, Mongolia, Vanuatu and Bhutan. Thus with a heavy heart, I am forced to give this documentary a 4-star rating and not a perfect 5 stars.

However, I really enjoyed watching this 14-hour series about world soccer. It gives the viewers a comprehensive detail about the history of this sport and the reasons for its immense popularity around the globe. It shows us every goal scored in a World Cup Final match and gives a detailed history of this sport in the USA, Brazil, Argentina, England and other top footballing European soccer nations. It even gives us the development of the game in China and India (potential World cup winning nations in the far fetched future) and shows us the future development of the game in the world.

Every famous soccer player was interviewed (the interview with Maradona was ESPECIALLY interesting and comical!) and the history of famous clubs are also being brought to light. Soccer tragedies are also being narrated and there is also a brief commentary about soccer hooliganism as well. The description of the political climate of some of the soccer nations (such as Sudan and Ghana) provides the fan an enjoyable slight deviation from the main theme.

In conclusion I would recommend this DVD to all passionate soccer fans. However, those who are interested in the minute details and facts about soccer, would not find anything new in this documentary.
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