08 October 2006

Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait

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Earlier this week I caught ‘Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait’. I was suitably impressed.

The perspective, the sense of space are distorted as the camera focuses entirely or maybe it was almost entirely on Zidane from multiple camera angles, the reason I can’t be sure is that the film often appears dream like, time appears suspended.
We are given several close ups, aerial views, views of hundreds of pixels on a television set; the action in this film is almost secondary. The use of sound further distances the viewer from how a regular match would be viewed, we have only very partial fragments of a commentary and whilst we hear what goes on in part inside the stadium from the crown for the most part the sound we hear seems to be emanating from the pitch itself, the thunder of boots as the players change direction, the thud as the ball is kicked, an occasional shout of “Hey!” In what I thought was a nice scene we hear what sounds like a football being kicked around in the streets, with dogs barking and the ball bouncing on the concrete, we are for that moment inside Zidane’s head. Short voice over segments are delivered from Zidane, memories are briefly shared.

I’d thought a real time portrait of a professional footballer would be constant movement, full exertion and scenes of athleticism on display. This film doesn’t really give us these things, the action is sporadic. Zidane is involved in the game but there appear to be times when his mind may be wandering, we see him gaze upward, the film makers cut to the flood lights atop the stadium, he pauses to pull his socks up again and as we see several times pulls them high as they’ll go and meticulously folds over the top or he will kick the front of his foot toward the grass in an almost schoolyard scuff-your-school shoes gesture and then suddenly, he’s in amongst the action again.

I’d classify myself as having only a slight interest in football, I like to play five a side for fun but have no real interest in attending live matches nor watch them when they are televised. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed this film so much, I fully admit to knowing nothing about the technical skill involved in professional football and what Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno show in ‘Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait’ is something so far removed from the TV coverage we are so familiar with, and this is why I think it’s a good film. I’d recommend it.

IMDB entry for Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, link.
Earlier post with film poster artwork, link.

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