For a moment there, it didn't look like Liverpool Football Club were going to get the chance to clinch their first Premier League title and first top-flight league trophy in 30 years. In this year of uncertainty, LFC's almost certain victory looked to be threatened and ruled null and void. But once football managed to resume safely, Jurgen Klopp and his band of merry reds managed to do what everyone expected them to do; they lifted the Premier League trophy. Since then, there have been many docs and TV specials put together to capture the moment and chart both the bizarreness of the 2019/2020 season and the long 30 years it took to finally get the silverware the club so desperately coveted.
Trying to stand out from the pack of these numerous docs and TV specials is James Erskine's The End of the Storm. Featuring exclusive interviews with some of the key players involved in the club's success, and more access to the Melwood training ground, The End of the Storm has all the ingredients to be the definitive documentary for this key moment in Liverpool's history. While the final result doesn't quite contain as much access or behind the locker room footage that characterises something like Amazon's ‘All or Nothing' series, it is still absolute catnip for any fan of the Merseyside Reds.
I will come clean with you folks, I am myself a Liverpool Football Club fan. As a result, I'm certainly going to be more susceptible to the charms of the figures featured, the narrative being told and the praise being expressed throughout this documentary, which is also very clearly made by fans. But I am also a film journalist, and I would like to think I can be impartial, even with something focusing on something near and dear.
So, that being said, as a documentary, The End of the Storm hits all the beats you'd expect it to. It looks back over the near misses of previous campaigns that saw Liverpool get close, only to see it slip through their fingers. But that build-up of frustration and stop and start development is not the focus of this doc. More, it is the individuals involved in the current moment that are more of interest, namely the effect that Jurgen Klopp had on the club and its players. It is also keen to highlight the community of fans across the world who, even when the year was at its darkest point, kept their faith in the team and the hard-working ethos that has existed at Anfield for generations.
It is the focus on the fan community that gives this documentary more personality than some of the other more rushed out specials that appeared in the summer. From looking at the experience of fans in Liverpool, India, China, the USA and beyond, director James Erskine and his team make sure that it does not forget the community of fans who are as big a part of the narrative of victory as Klopp and his star players are. It gives the film its heart and proves to be a further reminder that the fan base around Liverpool is one of the most dedicated and passionate in the sports world.
The interviews with the team itself include new talking heads with Klopp, Allison Becker, Jordan Henderson, Virgil Van Dijk, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. They don't ever particularly touch on tactics, with only the odd piece of footage looking into the training sessions. Instead, most of the conversations revolve around the individuals themselves, their mindsets, their personal journeys in football, and how coming to Liverpool at this moment feels at one with who they are and what they stand for. Those looking for more of a footballing insight will have to take little nuggets like how the team was coached in how to deal with pressure by the world's best high wave surfer for all they're worth. But for those looking to come away feeling like they have gotten to know more about some of the big personalities behind the success, then they will be pleasantly surprised.
With Christmas fast approaching, this should make for a perfect stocking filler for the Liverpool fan in your life. It will hardly appeal to anybody who isn't already sipping the Kool-Aid, and it isn't the behind the doors account of events that other devotees may be hoping for. But it is a film that understands the emotion of the moment, and what it all means to the people close to the club. That makes it a soothing balm for any fan of Liverpool Football Club, and stands as an entertaining account of one of the best and strangest seasons in the storied history of the club. Up the Reds.
Dir: James Erskine
DOP: Chris Openshaw
Country: United Kingdom
Runtime: 99 minutes
The End of the Storm is out on DVD and Blu-Ray from November 30th 2020.