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In 1956, Manchester United - aka Busby Babes - is riding high; a good looking and talented football team. 19 year old Bobby Charlton (Jack O'Connell) dreams of playing alongside his heroes and is given a chance by coach Jimmy Murphy (David Tennant) and the boss Matt Busby (Dougray Scott). By early 1958 the team is at the top of the league. In order to get back to Manchester in time for the regular Saturday game after playing in the quarter finals of the European Cup in Belgrade, Busby charters a plane, which has to refuel in Munich. As severe arctic weather descends, the plane crashes, killing 23 of the 43 people on board, including eight of Bobby's 17 team members along with staff, journalists and crew. Busby is riddled with guilt; Bobby is undecided as to whether he can play again while Jimmy is determined the spirit of the team will live on.

Review by Louise Keller:
An inspiring story about the human spirit, United documents the sequence of events that led up to the devastating plane crash that killed eight of the team members of the legendary Manchester United football team known as Busby Babes. Although the subject matter may limit the appeal of the film to those who love football, the story is essentially a story about resilience and determination.

Made as a TV movie and directed by James Strong, Chris Chibnall's screenplay tells the story through the eyes of 19 year old Bobby Charlton (Jack O'Connell), whose dreams have come true when he is selected to play in the team with his heroes. The tragic plane crash in a snow blizzard in Munich that killed eight of the team members is a turning point - not only for Bobby but for everyone who is touched by the disaster.

In a striking opening sequence we see two men sitting in airplane seats. The unusual thing is that the two seats are adrift in the middle of a snow-covered tarmac. This is simply a taste of things to come, the story jumping in time to two years earlier when we get involved in the world of the Busby Babes. We meet the team on the field in practice and se Bobby's yearning to become part of the team. The team's coach Jimmy Murphy (David Tennant) instils a strong work ethic into Bobby and when the boss Matt Busby (Dougray Scott) gives him a chance, he is determined to make the most of it.

We are there for the pep talks in the dressing room and the elation after a match but interestingly enough, no footage of matches is shown, apart from TV newsreel footage. Because we know what is about to happen, it is difficult for the filmmakers to develop the tension but we become involved in the camaraderie and get a sense of the mood on the plane before things go horribly wrong.

The final reel deals with the aftermath - and how everyone concerned deals with the tragedy. While the people of Manchester show their support by sending letters, cards and money, it is the remaining members of the team who are left to decide what to do next. All the performances are convincing with special mention to Tennant and Scott as the Coach and Owner. There's no denying it's a powerful and moving story, although the film struggles to find its way.

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(UK, 2010)

CAST: Jack O'Connell, Sam Claflin, David Tennant, Dougray Scott, Ben Peel

PRODUCER: Julia Stannard

DIRECTOR: James Strong

SCRIPT: Chris Chibnall


EDITOR: Billy Sneddon

MUSIC: Clint Mansell


RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane: August 11, 2011; Sydney, Melbourne: August 17, 2011; Canberra: August 27, 2011 (see venues opposite with dates)

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