• Film

Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait


Time Out says

Be warned: this is not a conventional film about football. There will be no testimonials from former colleagues or gushings from besotted fans. There will be no mentions of worthy charitable works or side pieces on a famous spouse’s fashion choices. ‘Zidane’ is an experiment in documentary narrative that takes one football match – Real Madrid against Villarreal on April 23 2005 – and one footballer – Zinédine Zidane de la head-butt – as its canvas. As a film, it’s not the wonderfully sublime experience that some critics at Cannes claimed it to be, but as an out-there, arty exercise in worshipful deconstruction, it is fascinating, slickly compiled and offers moments of beauty, reflection, amusement and intelligence.

Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno are artists who have incorporated cinema into their work before: Gordon slowed down Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ to two frames per second for his video piece, ‘24 Hour Psycho’, while Parreno’s ‘No More Reality’ featured snatches of ‘Gremlins’ and ‘Twin Peaks’. Here, the pair play further tricks with screen conventions by tracking Zidane for the entire length of a football match via 17 cameras placed around a football stadium. What we witness is not a football match as usual but Zidane during a football match, sweating, snorting, staring and, occasionally, putting foot to ball. It’s hero worship in which every glance and tip-toe matters.

Most remarkable is the sound design. Mogwai’s dreamy music, deftly edited, lifts the film out of the world of sports and makes it personal to Zidane. The soundtrack, meanwhile, flits between this music and the roar of the crowd, between the private and the public. For all its strengths, ‘Zidane’ probably belongs in the gallery, not the cinema, and doesn’t beg its argument strongly enough for those who don’t care for football. It mesmerises yet it also bores. It’s a fascinating experiment and a frustrating film.

Release Details

  • Rated:PG
  • Release date:Friday 29 September 2006
  • Duration:97 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Philippe Parreno, Douglas Gordon
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