I’m a city boy at heart, but I’ve spent much of my formative years in country towns big and small. In Ararat – a Victorian town best known for being ‘the fattest town in Australia’ – I had friends and family on farms down the road. Toowoomba, where I spent my late school years, was decidedly less country but offered the rugby hysteria characteristic of somewhere where there’s nothing else worth doing.
So it was odd to watch The Ground We Won spin similar subject material – a small Kiwi farming community where rugby is king – into romantic, unearned cultural significance by Christopher Pryor in this overwrought documentary. Sheep wrangling, rugby training and misogynistic team chants are all captured in sumptuous, gorgeously-shot black and white while soft orchestral music plays. We are encouraged to regard these boorish men’s struggles as symptomatic of the condition of masculinity …or something.
Bullshit. Maybe I’m only speaking to my personal experience, but The Ground We Won is entirely absent truth. It’s just some ponce faffing about with a fancy camera, trying to find meaning in blokes kicking a footy. At least it’ll teach me to be sceptical of similarly over-important documentaries about unfamiliar cultures in future.