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France 2006
Directed by
Douglas Gordon / Philippe Parreno
91 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
David Michael Brown
3 stars

Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait

Synopsis: The Spanish Liga football match between Real Madrid and Villarreal CF on April 23rd 2005 was filmed as any game would be. This time, however, 17 cameras were focused on only one man, Zinedine Zidane .

At the height of his powers Zinedine Zidane was the best player in the world. Twice voted the European Player of the Year, the Frenchman’s skill on the ball sent his fans into rapture. A talisman for the French national team and a stalwart amongst his Real Madrid teammate, no mean feat when you consider that the team also included the likes of Renaldo and David Beckham. He was the player who could do no wrong, at least until that fateful night in the summer of 2006 when France played Italy in the FIFA World Cup Final. In a fit of rage, allegedly after Materazzi had insulted his mother, Zidane head butted him in full view of the referee. He was sent off in front of a world wide audience of billions and his legend was seemingly tarnished forever.

Thankfully Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait goes some way to show us why he was such a wonderful player. The film also gives us a glimpse into the psyche of the great man and attempts to bring home the mental and physical strains that a professional footballer goes through in ninety minutes. The makers of this portrait would have been thrilled by the fact that during the game they chose to film so intensively Zidane goes though every emotion, helped by the fact that he scores and gets sent off once again.

It is, however, a film for football fanatics only. Anyone with only a passing interest will be bored within ten minutes. As the camera is often focusing on Zidane and not the ball you do not get a free flowing view of the whole game. Zidanists will be thrilled to see their hero falling back, studying the ball, waiting to make his strike. The rest will be hitting the fast forward button. There has been comment that the film is more suitable as an art installation than a cinematic experience and there is some validity in this statement but you have to look beyond the game being played and look at what’s happening off the ball.

The presence of Scottish rock band, Mogwai, will be a bonus for many; their achingly beautifully, distortion filled melodies perfectly accompany Zidane’s graceful movement on and off the ball but they may not be enough for the non believers. However, the sheer innovation on display pushes this way past the normal experience of watching a game and turns Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait into a truly unique experience, your cup of tea or not.






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