Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2006)
It can feel tedious, waiting and wanting, even boring at times — players are only on the ball for a few minutes at a time over 90 minutes, anyway. But for students and fans of the game, "Zinedine Zidane" offers what no other soccer movie can: a precise, impressionistic expression of a celebrity-hero on the field.
We’re willing to follow Zidane walk, jog, walk some more, sprint (seldomly) so closely because the TV cameras never gave us that courtesy. The 17 synchronized cameras catch his every move, trying to decipher Zidane the player, bringing us closer, closer, closer. It’s a voyeuristic undertaking that simultaneously recalls the childhood of seeing your favorite player as close as possible: to be him or her, if you could.
That he lined up against Villarreal is irrelevant. The score, too, irrelevant. That he was sent off in the 89th minute is irrelevant but for that it gives us another few drops of insight to him and takes away a few more minutes for the audience to act out its love, admiration — whatever you want to call it — for him.
Unlike other documentaries that make meaning from players and games themselves, Zidane is truly a portrait in the truest sense of the word: take a seat as if you were at a museum and be moved by the picture. Try and make something out of this piece of enigmatic aestheticism, decipher the je ne sais quoi in Zidane’s strides, if you can.
N/A. This movie could may as well be silent. French speakers will appreciate Zidane’s recollections that appear as subtitles throughout.
Inspired by Francisco de Goya and Diego Velázquez’s portraits in Madrid’s Prado museum, director Douglas Gordon and Phillipe Parreno wanted to make a film that followed a protagonist without telling the story — a portrait, cinematized. It wasn’t Douglas’ first experiment in the artistic realm; in college, he slowed down Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho to a 24-hour length film.
Did you know?
During halftime, the movie turns from the Santiago Bernabeu toward world news on April 23rd, 2004. In the photograph detailing the aftermath of a car bombing in Iraq, the figure of a man seen from the back wears a Zidane jersey.