Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Damned United

I know it's part of Hollywood's DNA to prettify everything, but sometimes they really miss the bloody point.

The Damned United tells the true story of Brian Clough, a notorious coach who presided over the Leeds United soccer team for a grand total of 44 days before being fired. For those looking for your typically uplifting sports film, you should look elsewhere. Far from being underdogs, Leeds United were beloved champions whose coach was leaving to take over the national team. Clough, on the other hand, was not your plucky, likable idealist, but somebody with a chip on his shoulder and willing to step on a lot of toes to get what he wants. Add to all this that the film takes place in the grungy factory towns of Great Britain during the fashion-challenged seventies, and you have a film that in most ways is the polar opposite of your average American sports film.

So, when it came to marketing the film, they took a shot of the film's star Michael Sheen (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) from a scene in the film...

...and replaced the background with some other pics from the film and the usual text, resulting in a nice poster:

Except... that wasn't the poster. The image above is from the DVD cover. The actual poster used to market the film is this:

Which leads me to two questions: Who the hell is this and what have they done with Michael Sheen?

The bags under the eyes are replaced with a wistful smile. The swept back hair (a universal movie indicator of badness) is replaced with a darling tuft of curl at the top of his forehead. The Homer-esque stubble is replaced with a baby's bottom shave. It's like they crossed Sheen with a Renaissance cherub.

The DVD cover is not only a more accurate depiction of Sheen, but it's also a more accurate depiction of the character. Clough is not the type of coach that we're used to seeing in uplifting sports films, but the poster sure makes us want to think so.

And I have to wonder if the studios second-guessed their modifications, because there was one other poster they put out:

Well, if that isn't splitting the difference, I don't know what is.

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