Talking Pictures

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Flying Pigs / Skrzydiate świnie

Posted by keith1942 on April 28, 2012

Basia and Oscar leads their 'fans'.

This film has ‘been described as a Polish Green Street (2004). The latter is part of the cycle of films that deal with British football hooliganism, though its distinctive feature is the recruitment of the US Elijah Wood into a British gang. In fact the suggestion is somewhat of a misnomer. Whilst Flying Pigs features football and football supporters that is only a plot mechanism [though not quite a MacGuffin]. The film is really about the relationship between two brothers and, as a colleague suggested, is closer to a family melodrama. Judging by the film the Polish fans and hooligans are not as bright as their British counterparts, but they are friendlier. As far as it is possible, the violence is good-natured.

30-year-old Oscar (Pawel Malaszynski) introduces us to the setting, where he is a supporter of the local team, Czarni in the small town of Grozdisk. His brother Mariusz (Piotr Rojuchi) has followed him into the ‘hools’, the hard-line members who support the ardent ‘ultras’: themselves separated from the ‘picnic’, family supporters. Czarni are going through hard times. The film opens with a lost match and then a running street confrontation with both opposing ultras and the riot police. Here were see the parallels with British fans, the battles, the violence and the excitement. As Oskar himself says, it is all about adrenaline.

Oskar’s father is a long-time fan; he manipulated moving his planned wedding day in order to attend a match. Oskar misses his wife’s pregnancy whilst involved in the action. Meanwhile his younger brother’s girlfriend Basia (Olga Boladz) is also an ‘ultra’.

The film’s plot develops when a local industrialist recruits first Basia then Oskar to train his mercenary supporter group for his newly purchased football team. His partner and personnel manager assists him. I kept thinking that there was a murkier motivation to their actions, but if so it never transpired in the film.

Oskar’s and Basia’s carpet-bagging to the new team brings serious conflicts to a head. This is both between Mariusz and Basia and between Oskar and his wife Alina (Karolina Gorczyca). What fan community is about in this film is loyalty and adherence to the code. Breaches of either result in both public shaming and personal crisis.

 

Basia, Osacr and Mariusz with fellow-ultras.

 

The film treats both the relationships and the fan activities with humour. There are some very funny scenes spread throughout the film. And the matches and the actions of the fans do develop genuine excitement. The plotting around the rival teams and the conflicts within the fan group are original. However, the treatment of the personal developments did at time remind me of other films. This was especially true of a sequence when Oskar attempts to placate and reunite with Alina.

This is a very likeable film. And it completely eschews the disturbing undertones, which are found in the British equivalents, like Green Street or The Football Factory (2004). If the ultras loyalty to their group and their team seems juvenile the films suggests that they will, in time, grow out of this.

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