Euro 2012 Book & Film Spotlight
6 months, 16 books and 29 films later, it comes down to a single match to decide the winner of the Euro 2012 Book & Film spotlight. Before we get to the final between France’s L’Apollonide and Portugal’s The Strange Case of Angelica, a quick recap of how these two got to the final.
Each of the 16 nations could have had a maximum of one book in the competition and up to 2 films. That led to 16 book and 29 films competing over 3 round-robin games in the group stages.
Euro 2012 Books
Poland: House of Day, House of Night, Olga Tokarczuk
Russia: A Hero of our Time, Mikhail Lermontov
Czech Republic: The Joke, Milan Kundera
Greece: Z, Vassilis Vassilikos
Holland: A Posthumous Confession, Marcellus Emants
Germany: The Appointment, Herta Müller
Portugal: Knowledge of Hell, António Lobo Antunes
Denmark: The History of Danish Dreams, Peter Høeg
Spain: Quarantine, Juan Goytisolo
Italy: The Porthole, Adriano Spatola
Ireland: Kepler, John Banville
Croatia: The Ministry of Pain, Dubravka Ugresic
Ukraine: The UnSimple, Taras Prokhasko
England: GB84, David Peace
France: The Giants, J.M.G Le Clezio
Sweden: The Dwarf, Par Lagerkvist
Euro 2012 Films
Poland: The Mill and the Cross (2011, Lech Majewski), In Darkness (2011, Agnieszka Holland)
Russia: Silent Souls (2010, Aleksei Fedorchenko), How I Ended This Summer (2010, Aleksey Popogrebskiy)
Czech Reoublic: Surviving Life (2010, Jan Svankmajer), Protektor (2009, Marek Najbrt)
Greece: Alps (2011, Giorgos Lanthimos)
Holland: C'est déjà l'été (2010, Martijn Maria Smits), Winter in Wartime (2008, Martin Koolhoven)
Germany: Storm (2009, Hans-Christian Schmid)
Portugal: Mysteries of Lisbon (2010, Raoul Ruiz), The Strange Case of Angelica (2010, Manoel de Oliveira)
Denmark: Applause (2009, Martin Zandvliet), Terribly Happy (2008, Henrik Ruben Genz)
Spain: The Last Circus (2010, Álex de la Iglesia), Map of the Sounds of Tokyo (2009, Isabel Coixet)
Italy: The Salt of Life (2011, Gianni Di Gregorio), Terraferma (2011, Emanuele Crialese)
Croatia: Buick Riviera (2008, Goran Rusinovic), The Blacks (2009, Goran Devic, Zvonimir Juric)
Ireland: The Guard (2011, John Michael McDonagh), Kisses (2008, Lance Daly)
England: Shame (2011, Steve McQueen), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011, Tomas Alfredson)
Sweden: Play (2011, Ruben Östlund), Everlasting Moments (2008, Jan Troell)
France: House of Tolerance (2011, Bertrand Bonello), Rapt (2009, Lucas Belvaux)
Ukraine: My Joy (2010, Sergei Loznitsa)
At the conclusion of the group stage, Russia, Poland, Portugal, Holland, Croatia, Italy, Ukraine and France advanced to the quarter-finals.
In the quarters, Russia, Portugal, France & Ukraine progressed to the semi-finals which saw the elimination of Russia and co-hosts Ukraine.
Euro 2012 Book & Film Spotlight Final
L’Apollonide (France) vs The Strange Case of Angelica (Portugal)
France jumped into an early lead with a vibrant piece of acting but Portugal duly replied with a deft comedic acting touch. A strong story helped Portugal take a 2-1 lead just before half-time. In the second half, both nations traded goals in the direction and cinematography categories. Portugal held a 4-3 lead as the clock ticked away and their victory seemed certain but France managed a slick series of moves and angular passing to score a late goal in the production category to end the game 4-4 in regulation. That meant that Portugal faced a subjective penalty shoot-out for the 2nd straight game. And just like in the semi-final, Portugal easily prevailed in penalties to deservedly claim the title of Euro 2012 Book & Film Spotlight winner.
The film penalty shoot-out is an emotional affair so a winning film is one that resonates the most emotionally. In this regard, the French film L’Apollonide (House of Pleasures) was at a disadvantage because its setting and style portrays a cold closed-off world. When clients enter the brothel in Bertrand Bonello’s film, the outside world dissolves along with most of the client’s worries. There are some scenes in the film which show that the brothel is not immune from financial dealings of the outside world. However, for the most part the sheltered world of the brothel evokes a chilly response. On the other hand, The Strange Case of Angelica is warm, tender and a genuine pleasure. Manoel de Oliveira’s film opens the world up with its metaphysical story sprinkled with some dry humor and manages to hit all the right notes.
This spotlight belonged to Portugal from the first game until the final. Aside from The Strange Case of Angelica, the primary Portugese film Mysteries of Lisbon and António Lobo Antunes’ book Knowledge of Hell were also excellent selections. If all the Euro 2012 books and films were evaluated individually to come up with a top 4, then Portugal would be firmly present in both book and film categories.
Top 4 Books
Z, Vassilis Vassilikos, Greece
GB84, David Peace, England
The UnSimple, Taras Prokhasko, Ukraine
Knowledge of Hell, António Lobo Antunes, Portugal
Top 4 films
The Strange Case of Angelica, Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal
My Joy, Sergei Loznitsa, Ukraine
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Tomas Alfredson, England
Mysteries of Lisbon, Raoul Ruiz, Portugal
Spain is the current favourite in European and International soccer but they were no match for the Portuguese Cinema and Literature selected for this spotlight.
This was both an enjoyable and exhausting spotlight. It required more time than I had planned because of the 16 books. 29 films was an easy number to tackle given that the 2010 World Cup Film Spotlight had 32 films. But it was the presence of the 16 books that took up majority of the time. Still, it was a worthwhile experience as I was able to discover new authors and also catch up with worthy works from established masters. Also, this is probably the last of such book and film spotlights that I will attempt as the next European Championship will have 24 nations. Reading 24 books over a course of 6 months may prove too much to handle. On the other hand, a pure film only spotlight might be much easier to get through.