Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait

Movies , Documentary
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Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait

Great athletes are often compared to artists, though only a handful truly deserve that lofty compliment. But footballer Zinédine Zidane is one of them; seeing this fleet French-Algerian midfielder snake through defenders is like watching soccer’s Baryshnikov. Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno have taken the notion a step further: The duo have made an art doc that focuses solely on Zidane during a complete 2005 Real Madrid match. The player’s the thing, and sports fans yearning for bigger-picture highlights may tear their hair out. Structuralist-film aficionados, however, will be in heaven.

Zidane struts and frets in real time while Mogwai’s moody post-rock drones on. When the athlete does finally spring into action, you’re taken aback by his fluidity; even the close-ups of Zidane coolly observing the pitch are hypnotic. (The filmmakers’ decision to recall the day’s global events during halftime, however, is anything but mesmerizing.) He remains a Sphinx-like character, even after one ecstatic smile and a red-card ejection(which takes on weight, considering how his head-butting of an Italian opponent during 2006’s World Cup tarnished his legacy). Yet to see everything boiled down to one man’s stillness and movement is a transcendentalist high, a concentrated dose of poetry in motion.

Release details

Rated: NR
Release date: Friday October 24 2008
Duration: 90 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Philippe Parreno, Douglas Gordon