With the English Premier League set to return this weekend, eyes all around the globe will once again focus on one of the most-watched sports leagues in the world. As star strikers such as Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Mohamed Salah earn the plaudits for their goalscoring antics, spare a thought for those out there trying to stop them, those protectors of the net, the last line of defence – the goalkeeper. In Dress Code’s visually impressive four-minute short The Lonely Goalkeeper Arsenal legend Bob Wilson reflects on a career between-the-sticks and discusses the pressures of playing the most isolated position in the team.
Combining a voice-over, where Wilson talks about his role as the “villain” of the game, with some slick and stylish animated visuals, The Lonely Goalkeeper builds on the impressive filmmaking on show in Dress Code’s 2017 Staff Pick Premiere Coke Habit. With an aesthetic that feels both nostalgic (Wilson played football for most of the 60’s and the early 70’s) and contemporary and a narrative centred around courage and respect, there’s something here for everyone, not just football fans.
Visually, the Dress Code crew do an impressive job in bringing Wilson’s thoughts to the screen. For most of the film, the animation on screen is a literal representation of exactly what the ex-Arsenal goalkeeper is describing, but The Lonely Goalkeeper is at its most exciting when it delves into more abstract realms. As Wilson describes the experience of being the “only individual in the team game” we’re presented with a vision of a goalkeeper isolated on a football pitch with a spotlight and when he talks about the size of the goal he has to protect, describing it a “chasm”, we see the animated keeper dangling from a tightrope over a gaping abyss.
It’s a novel approach for what is essentially a profile/portrait documentary – a format that has grown ever-popular and somewhat oversaturated in the short film arena in recent times. If you’re fans of Dress Code’s style, it’s certainly worth checking out their Vimeo page (link below) for more of their work. They have an impressive nine staff picks to their name – so they must be doing something right.