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Film Review - Daring to Dream: England's Story at the 2018 World Cup

Tuesday 4th December 2018
Summer 2018 proved an unforgettable one for the Three Lions
Summer 2018 proved an unforgettable one for the Three Lions

This past summer delivered lasting memories for English football fans. Performing above what many believed possible, England reached the semi-finals of a major competition for the first time in 12 years. ‘Daring to Dream’ tells the story of how a team recaptured a nation's love for the international game.  

Title: Daring to Dream: England’s Story at the 2018 World Cup
Studio: Universal Pictures UK
DVD Release Date: 19 Nov. 2018
Price: £10, available from Amazon

As with most review style films, ‘Daring to Dream’ begins with an iconic moment: Kieran Trippier’s free kick in the semi-final against Croatia. This is just a brief showing to draw the viewer in. The main part of the DVD generally follows a chronological timeline, playing back England's incredible 2018 World Cup. 

The story starts in December 2010, when it was announced Russia would host the tournament. The furthest the Three Lions had got in a major competition since then was the quarter-finals of Euro 2012. They had exited the last World Cup in Brazil at the group stage. 

The film's first seven minutes concentrates on England's build-up to Russia over the previous two years. It touches on Sam Allardyce’s appointment as manager, but more focus is rightly given to Gareth Southgate taking charge. The introduction includes extracts of an interview with the Three Lions boss, in which he references the country's recent success at youth levels. The conversation acts as a commentary on how qualification for the World Cup came about.    

The main aspect of the DVD is to provide match highlights. England's every World Cup game, from the group through to the third-place playoff against Belgium, is afforded between 10 and 15 minutes. The one surprise is that there's no commentary on them. That does take some getting used to.   

Match highlights are followed by extracts of post-match interviews from both Southgate and the players. They help to build up England's World Cup adventure. 

That story is told through clips of fan reactions after each match, along with supporter screenshots taken off Twitter. Such moments show the growing optimism as the tournament progressed, emphasising how the relationship between team and fans was being rebuilt after a period of disillusionment.

In and around the highlights, there are some good little touches that really bring the occasion to life. Things away from the pitch, such as the attention given to Southgate’s attire (sales of waistcoats went through the roof during the tournament), help 'Dare to Dream' capture the feeling around the country. 

The film never claims to show any exclusive footage. Providing such would have enhanced the story's impact. Maybe a few interviews with Southgate and the players, talking about how they felt while the World Cup was happening, would add extra depth and interest.  

The no commentary highlights is an area that grows as the documentary progresses. It allows viewers to make their own judgements on significant parts of matches. The fact there's no talking enables the atmosphere inside of the stadiums to be noticed more, including the 'Three Lions' song being played over the tannoy after every England goal. 

Overall, 'Daring to Dream' has succeeded in recapturing unforgettable World Cup memories for England, both on and off the pitch. Everything from the tournament is brought together in one place, making it an easy, enjoyable 100-minute watch.    

Amie Wilson

A lifelong football & Leicester City fan, who can be often found at the King Power Stadium at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. I still think about the 15/16 season every day! I sometimes talk about sport on the radio, and am a graduate of the BBC Kick Off scheme.

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