A Violent Femme’s (Re)View – Last Day at Lambeau
I recently had the privilege of viewing an advance copy of the new documentary, “Last Day at Lambeau”, which journals the twists and turns of the last years of Brett Favre’s career and in particular, his last three years of play at Lambeau Field, both as a Packer and then as a (still hurts to say it) Viking.
The film starts with shots of training camp, kids and bikes with producer Michael Neelsen painting the picture of idyllic boyhood trips to Lambeau each summer to watch the Packers practice. It sets the tone well for the tale to come – and creates a backdrop for why Packer fans felt the sense of betrayal over Favre’s actions so strongly as the situation evolved.
The storyline is familiar not only to Packers fans but anyone who viewed ESPN and its “all Favre all the time” coverage from the 2008-2010 seasons – the agony of the NFC Championship defeat at the hands of the Giants; the teary press conference where Favre announced his retirement; the sight of Favre leaving Lambeau dejected (and maybe slightly humbled?) after losing his last game ever in the place he had so many victories.
The insights into the thoughts of the parties involved that are revealed are intriguing. A mix of Packers writers, bloggers and fans give voice to the events that frustrated, then elated Packers fans as we struggled through what was a very messy sports divorce. Lori Nickel, Tom Pelissero, Chris Jenkins and Bill Johnson, among others, give professional beat writers’ glimpses into the drama. There is also a mixture of blogger and fan perspectives presented which add depth and shading to the story.
This documentary is very well done, although I would have hoped for a somewhat more diverse fan perspective. The majority of the fan response is given by ‘St. Vince’ and although he is a well-known fan indeed (for his iconic Pope-like garb among other things), more lengthy comments by people like the “everyfans” that Neelsen cuts to during the film would have given more breadth to the overall fan experience. I also feel there is a bit more of a focus than I would have liked to see on some of the ‘fringe’ elements (my term, not Neelsen’s) such as the ‘Bring Brett Back’ efforts that erupted as the controversy grew and spread; but that is really a quibble, because at the time of the ‘Summer of Favre’ these movements were real and felt more solid than they do in retrospect.
In the end, the Packers’ point of view is well told. As is Brett Favre’s. What to draw from the wealth of information presented?
Ultimately, the lesson of this movie, to me, comes down to one quote:
Lori Nickel: “The fans kind of got left out…Brett Favre did what was best for him and the Packers did what was best for them….”
In retrospect, the fans were indeed really forgotten in this war, at least until Brett Favre walked onto Lambeau Field as a Viking for the first time and walked off as a Viking for the last time, when Packer Nation voiced its deep displeasure with the situation. By the time of that final game, Favre had done so much damage to his image that for the most part the Packers organization won…and the legacy of Favre with the Packers, at least for some time to come, had lost.
That’s my conclusion.
However, another viewer’s conclusion may be entirely different. That’s the beauty of this multilayered, balanced look at the events that changed Packer history forever.
Make a point of spending time with “Last Day at Lambeau.”