October 29, 2010 / 3:10 PM / 7 years ago

Movie "Kill Octopus Paul" takes look at soccer betting

<p>Two year-old octopus Paul, the so-called "octopus oracle" predicts Spain's 2010 soccer World Cup final victory over The Netherlands by opening and choosing a mussel, from a glass box decorated with the Spanish national flag instead of a glass box with the Dutch flag, at the Sea Life Aquarium in the western German city of Oberhausen July 9, 2010. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay</p>

BEIJING (Reuters) - Shortly after the passing of the world’s beloved eight-legged soccer soothsayer, a Chinese film called “Kill Octopus Paul” is challenging the truth behind the oracle octopus who correctly predicted World Cup results.

Director Xiao Jiang’s fictional thriller follows a group of Chinese soccer enthusiasts who travel to South Africa to uncover an international betting cartel conspiracy.

The plot twists and turns as viewers find out that the legend of Paul, the visionary mollusc, was fabricated and manipulated to aid a match-fixing scheme and international betting ring.

“I really like soccer and I love the World Cup. But I know the World Cup had a lot of people betting on it,” said Xiao, after a media preview in Beijing on Thursday.

“So when I started to think about making this movie, I wanted to film about people who because of betting encountered some sticky situations.”

English-born Paul made headlines across the globe after he correctly forecast how Germany would fare in seven matches, before his oracular abilities were challenged ahead of the final between Spain and the Netherlands. He picked Spain, the winner.

Before each game, two containers of food were placed in Paul’s tank, each one adorned with the flag of the teams that were about to compete. The container Paul chose first was seen as his pick.

While Xiao said she did not believe in Paul’s soothsaying abilities herself, his fame was key in gaining greater global interest for the World Cup.

“As far as I know, a record of Paul choosing 8 for 8 correctly does not exist. And an octopus cannot be as intelligent as a human being,” she added. “So this is a perfect plan, and this plan has fooled people all over the world. This is because people all over the world really like Paul because Paul is very cute.”

Paul died of natural causes this week at the Oberhausen Aquarium.

The movie will be released on November 30.

Writing by Phyllis Xu and Elaine Lies; editing by Paul Casciato

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