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Year of the Dogs (1997)

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Title: Year of the Dogs (1997)

Year of the Dogs (1997) on IMDb 8.2/10

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Feel all the emotion in this excellent documentary
3 December 2006 | by (Perth, Australia) – See all my reviews

Footscray Football Club, "The Bulldogs," 1996. It's about a desperate club in desperate times. A club which must fight for survival on and off the field. A team that the league it plays in is even trying to kill off. Footscray FC receives no sympathy on any sides and it is shown in full in this piece.

It captures the tension, drama, sacrifice, depression and hope of a football club, during a season that it will struggle. Viewers will no doubt find the coach's address to his players before, during and after a game the focal point of this film. What we are left with is powerful speeches that will fuel our emotions. The language used by the people in it will stick in the minds of the viewer as it is unscripted and as-it-happened.

Take a step back and realise that the filmmakers had absolutely no idea what kind of year ahead the club was going to have. There is no narrator or voice-over, which leaves out such bias viewpoint as in other documentaries.

The score is excellent. An anthem which represents all the emotions shown, with a melody that spins off from the club song 'Sons of the 'Scray'. Pay particular attention to the closing credits, it features the Footscray stripes fading into black to the tune of the club song, in a coal miner's brass band style. It's also the last time we get to see the Bulldogs go by a proper name, Footscray.

What really makes 'Year of the Dogs' exceptional is the fact it has captured the mood and unscripted language of people, and through the use of music, camera-work and editing, at times gives it all the makings of a Hollywood movie.

This documentary was released the year after it was filmed, in 1997, fueling the Bulldogs almost fairy tale season of that year as they were approaching the finals. A film delivered at a time when no team had reached a Grand Final after finishing as low as fifteenth in the previous season. But the fairy tale was not to be. The Bulldogs stumbled in the final quarter of the preliminary final which would be their worst loss in memory.

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