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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henry V meets Platoon with odd shaped balls, 15 May 2013
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This review is from: Living With Lions The Complete Story Collector's Edition [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
This is amongst the best non-fiction films I've ever seen. Even if you aren't the biggest Rugby fan then there is still lots (enough for 5 stars) here for you.

Rugby is a tough, physical and frankly dangerous game. At this level, and especially in South Africa, it as close to simulated war as modern sport gets. Much of this documentary takes you straight to the moments before the "battle" begins in a pure, visceral way that really is something special. I think the lack of a standard documentary voice-over and the willingness to linger on faces of the players and staff seem to connect you to the emotions and characters of the individuals in a very direct way.

Highlights of the on-field action actually are not the most memorable parts of this film, even for the Rugby fan, though some elements like Dawson's dummy or Bentley's try are truly stunning.

For me the highs are:

Jim Telfer's Everest speech giving Shakespeare's "Once more..." a run for its money,
Ian MacGeechan's tense body language before the matches showing precisely how much it means to him and yet how helpless he feels in those moments, and
Irish prop Keith Wood telling a very young-looking English Scrum-Half Matt Dawson "let them kick me not you," in a moment that sums up a awful lot of what the Lions is about.

But perhaps the most memorable/affecting bits are the tough-to-watch lows:

Will Greenwood's Mum yelling "William, William. What have you done?" as her unconscious son is carried off the pitch apparently close to death.
Team doctor James "Robbo" Robson treating Cauliflower ears
The sheer, crushing anguish in Doddie Wier's face, and his desperate attempt to hide it, as Robbo tells him his knee has been wrecked in on field foul-play by Mpumalanga Province before the first Test has been played.

As a parent whose young sons play Rugby, some of this is really, really tough to watch. Though a sight of Graham Rowntree's bloodied ears has at least won the argument in favour of a scrum helmet!

Buy it. Watch it. Watch the extras. Watch it again . Though if your sons or daughters want to carry on playing rugby don't let their mother see the Mrs Greenwood bit.......
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Location: London, United Kingdom

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