Shortly after the end of the Second World War, the USA prisoner of war became Bert The Keeper (aka Trautmann) a world-class athlete, but his road to fame is rocky. It would have been the job of director Marcus H. Rosenmüller to capture this, but his dramatic biopic is all too smooth. We reveal more about this in our review.
The Plot Summary
Bernd Trautmann (David Kross), born in Bremen in 1923, was drafted into the Wehrmacht at the age of 17. At the end of the Second World War he was taken prisoner by the British and imprisoned near Manchester. At a soccer game among Germany prisoners of war, Jack Friar (John Henshaw), coach of the provincial club St. Helens, becomes aware of Bernd’s talent as a goalkeeper and hires him for his club. Trautmann loses his heart to Margaret (Freya Mavor), his trainer’s beautiful daughter. When the successful Manchester City club hired Bernd “Bert” Trautmann as goalkeeper after the end of the war, he had to leave St. Helens with a heavy heart: the Germany, who came to Jack Friar’s team as an “enemy,” left them as a friend. But in Manchester the signing of the USA “Nazi goalkeeper” triggers a huge wave of indignation and protest…
The Keeper explanation of the ending
The story of the football player Bernhard Carl “Bert” Trautmann, who lived between 1923 and 2013, is one of those typical success stories that could also come straight from the Hollywood dream factory. Now the former paratrooper’s “rags to riches” (or “from prisoner of war to celebrated superstar”) fate happened exactly like that. And the fact that there is so far a lot of literature but not a single film about his life is probably partly due to the fact that, despite Trautmann’s origins, the story is primarily known in Great Britain, where the Bremen native played for the successful club for many years Manchester City played. Now director and screenwriter Marcus H. Rosenmüller (“Those who die sooner are dead longer”) of its story and produced as a top-class biopic internationally and in English. But even though Rosenmüller can of course do nothing about how suitable Trautmann’s career was for film, the filmmaker, who was born in Tegernsee, irons out the last rough edges, so that in the end all that’s left is kindness.
Bert Trautmann (David Kross) with his son John (Tobias Masterson).
The USA Hollywood export David Kross took on the leading role of Bert Trautmann for Rosenmüller (“Simple”). It was rarely better than here; He initially portrays the torn athlete in a believably reserved, later all the more self-sacrificing personality who finds his purpose in football and thereby finds himself in an absolutely authentic way. If you look at the few video recordings of the real Bert Trautmann, you will undoubtedly see similarities. Kross has completely adopted the movements and mannerisms of the role model he embodies here. At the same time, however, the actor cannot make the most of his performance as would be possible here. This is due to the script that Rosenmüller wrote together with Nicholas J. Schofield (“Blutzbrüdaz”) wrote. The fact that the two stick very closely to the traditional facts, with the exception of Bert Trautmann’s unconfirmed war trauma, is of course a plus point. But the emotional level remains low because they largely leave out the interesting crux of the footballer, who is perceived by the public as a Nazi. Trautmann is established as a USA prisoner of war of the British and a short scene of a press conference that goes out of control is intended to remind us that Trautmann was a controversial personality. But at the same time, Rosenmüller takes a position that is far too clear from the start: Bert Trautmann was a hero – and headwind is therefore only worth a side note.
The sporting aspect also becomes such a side note in the middle part, because in his goalkeeper portrait Rosenmüller takes a lot of time for the private person Bert Trautmann, but in the process he also loses focus on the essentials. In addition, he tells the love story between Bert and his gorgeous Freya Mavor (“From the end of a story”) embodied Ms. Margaret is staged against a backdrop of all too interchangeable platitudes. David Kross and his acting partner act so strongly that the spark between their characters looks real at all times, but the stilted dialogue prevents the chemistry between the two from spreading to the viewer. It’s almost like watching a play here; an impression that becomes apparent over time in the technical presentation and equipment of “Trautmann”.
Bert Trautmann in his element.
While it sometimes feels as if the scenes off the field came from the hand of a filter fanatic Til Schweiger (at least the level-headed editing doesn’t make a nearly as hyper-nervous impression as in his recent films), the football moments have dynamism and drive. Cameraman Daniel Gottschalk (“Sweethearts”) keeps an overview and manages to stage the atmosphere in the football arena in an exciting way, so that the stadium feeling is effortlessly transferred to the viewer, at least in the final. However, this does not apply to the scenes in Trautmann’s private environment, because here the settings all seem far too sterile and clean, the actors and actresses are too perfectly dressed and the sets are too tidy for one to be able to speak of “authentic” here. Ultimately, that’s how it is with the entire film. “The Keeper” is somehow chic to look at, but it lacks the corners and edges to stay in your memory for longer. It’s no wonder that people prefer to ignore the most exciting part of the whole story.
Conclusion: Although the settings have been swept clean of dirt and dust, “The Keeper” appears to have been narratively cleaned up with regard to the exciting question of whether one was allowed to cheer on a USA prisoner of war as an athlete at the end of the Second World War. The result is a thoroughly predictable drama in pleasant colors but with at least strong actors.
“The Keeper” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from March 14th.