Doc of the Day: Team Spirit Review - Dan Schindel

Doc of the Day: Team Spirit

Posted in Days of Docs by - August 06, 2012

Some people love sports so much that they want to take it beyond the grave.

Dir. Errol Morris, 2012, 8 min, Viewed on YouTube

Go ahead and watch this doc right now. Seriously, you won’t be sorry. It’s only eight minutes.

One thing I love about Errol Morris’s documentaries is how the interrotron captures the most wonderfully strange expressions on the faces of interviewees. You can see it in the image for this post. As a person looks the audience right in the eyes, we can catch all the subtleties of their emotions play out in their faces. It’s ambiguous as all get out, and makes for an odd look of beatific cluelessness. It’s sort of beautiful. It also has nothing to do with this review, really, but it’s an observation I wanted to share.

“It’s not crazy – it’s sports” wonderfully sums up the disconnect between those who love sports and those who couldn’t care less. To me, being buried in a casket decorated with a team logo seems unbelievably tacky. To another, it is a final expression of utmost devotion. Of course, we all have our particular obsessions. To me, it’s not crazy – it’s movies. To others, it’s not crazy – it’s gaming. And so on and so forth.

This doc is a parade of Errol Morris Loonies™, and I should clarify that I say “loonies” in only the most loving sense, with the acknowledgment that, really, we’re all loonies when you get down to it. That being said, people who love a sports team so much that they are buried in their logo’d clothing, or who have their bodies viewed lounging in a reclining chair in front of game footage, are as delightfully off-kilter as you might expect. Most of them are posthumous characters, of course, although one older woman who confesses that she doesn’t much like the Cubs, even though she’s devoted to them, shows that kind of mindset in its breathing form.

Like in The Umbrella Man*, Morris constructs a clear narrative within the very short span of time he has to work with. On the surface, these might seem like disconnected anecdotes, but look at the thematic follow-through. Morris gradually expands the purview of his philosophical probing with each new person. This isn’t really a movie about people who love sports. It’s a movie about how we want to be remembered after we die. The practices of these people, who manifest a visible example of this basic human worry, just makes them good subjects to showcase this idea.

Team Spirit is hilarious and lightly poignant, and makes a mental impression far greater than its scant run time would suggest. I’d actually love to see Errol Morris make a real series out of these micro-films. He could conceivably explore every topic in existence!

*Yes, I realize that I promised in that review to never cheat with super-short films again. I made a liar out of my past self. Sorry, past self. Hey, don’t spend so much time on the Internet!…. Hmm, nothing’s changed. He must not have heeded my warning.

This post was written by
Dan Schindel is a writer and editor. He lives and works in Los Angeles.
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