COPA 71 – The DVDfever Cinema Review – Football documentary

COPA 71 COPA 71 is a new documentary about the 1971 Women’s World Cup, and you may ask yourself, as I haven’t watched football since I was a kid, and thus have zero interest in the modern game, why am I watching this?

Okay, I’d already planned to see Imaginary at the same time, but when I’m making the trip to the Trafford Centre and I’m on the Limitless subscription, I may as well see at least two or more films, and this was the only other one on that was also at a convenient time.

Starting off in 1970, although this was a time when girls weren’t allowed to play professional football, and despite the first Women’s World Cup taking place in that year, in Italy, it was the 1971 Women’s World Cup in Mexico City – both organised by the the Federation of Independent European Female Football (FIEFF), not FIFA – which changed the perception of women footballers forever. Until then, they were expected to stay at home making the dinner, which made England’s Carol Wilson even more determined not to do so, and she joined the Royal Air Force. Trudy McCaffery is another key member of the team, and both are amongst the footballers interviewed here, along with archive footage being included.

While the regular 1970 World Cup in Mexico was also the first one in colour, we learn how there were 100 women’s clubs founded by 1917, which was later made illegal, because it was “dangerous to their health and ovaries”! Hence, it was obvious that this was down to sexist men not wanting any of this, even to the point that when the 1971 tournament produced a winner (which I won’t spoil, as the documentary takes you through the matches in England’s group, and beyond – even though this is from 53 years ago), the media ‘conveniently’ forgetting about all participants involved(!)

Overall, despite my lack of general interest in modern-day football, COPA 71 is important documentary, and worth checking out, since it was this event which really put women’s football on the map. And sometimes, documentaries are more interesting than the subject matter’s usual daily basis. For example, for years, I just didn’t get on with The Exorcist, and didn’t think it was all that. I think it’s great, now, and certainly moreso in the Director’s Cut form, but back when I wasn’t a fan, Mark Kermode’s documentary about it was still fascinating.

I also like how the 1970 England manager was Harry Batt, when I only knew him as the private investigator on Dick And Dom In Da Bungalow.

Now, a query over the aspect ratio of this production. Obviously, the archive footage from 1971 and around that era is going to be in 4:3 (1.33:1), but the film is set within a standard 1.85:1 container, which makes it easy for cinemas to know how to present it, but the interviews are not shot in that ratio when they easily could have been. Instead, they’re filmed – like a lot of modern TV programmes – in 2.00:1. Hence, when COPA 71 is shown on a 2.39:1 screen in the cinema – as it was on screen 1 at the Trafford Centre – and since they don’t close the curtains at the sides, you have those scenes effectively windowboxed, floating in the middle of the screen. It’s a bit odd.

COPA 71 is in cinemas now, but isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD. However, once announced, it will appear on the New DVD Blu-ray 3D and 4K releases UK list.

COPA 71 – Official Trailer – Dogwoof

Detailed specs:

Running time: 90 minutes
Release date: March 8th 2024
Studio: Dogwoof
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 frame with archive footage in 1.33:1, and interviews in 2.00:1
Cinema: Odeon Trafford Centre
Rating: 7/10

Directors: James Erskine, Rachel Ramsay
Producers: Jannat Gargi, Anna Godas, Victoria Gregory
Writers: Directors: James Erskine, Rachel Ramsay, Victoria Gregory
Music: Rob Lord

Elvira Aracen
Brandi Chastain
Birte Kjems
Chris Lockwood
Nicole Mangas
Trudy McCaffery
Alex Morgan
Elena Schiavo
Elba Selva
Ann Stengard
Carol Wilson
Silvia Zaragoza
Latin Commentator: Jose Palma