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Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2006)
"Zidane, un portrait du 21e siècle" (original title)

6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 2,377 users  
Reviews: 34 user | 37 critic

Football match Real Madrid vs. Villareal, April 23, 2005, from the perspective of soccer superstar Zinedine Zidane.

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Football match Real Madrid vs. Villareal, April 23, 2005, from the perspective of soccer superstar Zinedine Zidane.

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Documentary | Sport

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24 May 2006 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Zidane - Ein Porträt im 21. Jahrhundert  »

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Fragmented aims and delivery will detract value for even interested viewers although still leaves enough to make it worth seeing
6 June 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

On the 23rd April 2005, 22 men came out onto a rectangle of grass in front of a crowd of tens of thousands. This walk in the park was the league match between Real Madrid and Vilareal, a game that would see three goals, several bookings and three red cards before those involved were allowed to leave the grass.

Audience expectation is a terrible thing and I think it is one reason why so many viewers seemed to have similar issues with this film. Zidane etc was sold as a football film built around the concept of watching a master at work. The trailer said as much and I think a lot of people tuned in for that reason. However this is not really what the film is about because it was not really made as a portrait of the football of Zidane but rather of the art of Zidane. What this means is that the film is often quite "arty" in delivery and this actually gets in the way of the football and prevented me enjoying it consistently on this level.

At times the footage is great because it doesn't really worry about the football to the degree where all shots are wide and tell you what is happening. It gives a range of shots and, despite their grainy nature, the shots of the television for replays is useful. However I did get the impression that Gordon and Parreno were overly conscious about not just making a clever Match of the Day special and thus they did push the art aspect of the film. This is seen in the decision to show replays by filming a TV screen rather than just filming the action in a normal way and playing it back. Likewise blurry footage, fast cuts, the choice of soothing but bland score, the way that the film gets from crowd noise to babbling commentators and the subtitled thoughts of Zidane.

I found this off putting as it seemed forced and seemed to fly in the face of the fact that this was a film (not an installation), had been marketed as a football film and had been built around one of the finest footballers at the time. This is not to say that it is bad because, as an art piece of filming, these parts work well and, in their place, would be create. Just like the football stuff works well and it is only when it mixes with the art stuff that it falls down. So really it is two good projects but the reason it is only so-so is that it doesn't merge them well at all and indeed both aspects take away from one another rather than enhancing the experience.

It is quite dull at times and the lack of clear audience will be an issue. Those coming for the art side will be bored shirtless by some of the "straight" moments where Zidane is just filming making runs off the ball etc, while football fans will be frustrated by some of the filming and the maker's lack of passion for the man's role within the game. Of course having said that, this works the other way as well with, for example, the football crowd enjoying watching Zidane moving, fighting, kicking, failing, winning etc and the art crowd enjoying that aspect. Just a shame that the project could not have delivered consistently in one way (even if that one way encompassed both these factors) rather than making them feel like distinct aims.


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