When I wrote about Don John and Red Riding I talked noted that the two productions were set in a nineteen seventies which was presented as dark and bleak. The Damned United is another production set in the seventies and also uses a sense of bleakness as its backdrop. However, the scenes in grays and silver are fully contrasted against bright domestic scenes which makes this film a very different production from the Don John and Red Riding. The Damned United is the story of Brian Clough who becomes manager of Leeds United for 44 days. David Peace’s book alternates through the first person narration of Brian Clough at Leeds as he is engulfed by the demons around him and the third person narration which sets out the back story and the road that Clough takes to Elland Road. The contrasts in the film are different ferom the novel’s alternation between leeds and Clough’s past professional life. Clough’s time at Leeds United is important in the film but it is not necessarily the focus, which is on Clough’s relationship with his assistant, Peter Taylor.
As most reviewers have said the film is much more humorous than the novel which is very dark indeed. As Peace takes the biographical and autobiographical material around Clough’s life to create a menacing and haunting narrative about a man, like a moth drawn to light, who can’t resist the encounter with his Nemesis.
Even though novel and film are very different in tone, I really enjoyed both. The novel is beautifully crafted and the film makes such good use of flashback and reconstruction to create the a feeling of the seventies which is not as dark as Don John and Red Riding, but feels like a different planet.
PS. One thing, I think I spotted the new East Stand in shots of the 1970’s Elland Road.