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Review: Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait-Zidane: un portrait du XXIème siècle (2006)

Directed by: Douglas Gordon, Philippe Parreno | 90 minutes | documentary, sports | Featuring:

Strangely enough, the documentary “Zidane: un portrait du XXIème siècle” is not primarily about the footballer Zinedine Zidane, “Zizou” for close friends. It is true that he is followed closely for an hour and a half, and his commentary can sometimes be read as subtitles, but what this mainly seems to be about is the experiment that this documentary is. From all corners of the gigantic Bernabeu stadium, home to Zidane’s then employer Real Madrid, a rhythmic, dreamy and sometimes almost hypnotic image of Zidane is given. Of course it is no coincidence that Zidane was chosen as the “subject” for this experiment. After all, he is considered one of the greatest footballers of all time, and perhaps due to his lack of charisma or ostentation, he has a rather untouchable haze about him. It does not stand out, but is unnoticed. Every now and then his class emerges. Most of the time, however, we almost see him strolling around the field, with an ever-dragging right foot. The opponent gets the impression that he is just a spectator, and just when one really starts to believe that impression, Zizou strikes again. This inviolability is reinforced by the almost emotionless way in which he seems to watch the game. When his team falls behind, you just see a tiny throwaway gesture, and when he has personally prepared the equalizer, he stoically receives the humble congratulations. The whole world now knows that Zidane is not at all the hypothermic person he seems to be at those moments, after Zidane’s shocking red card in his farewell match, the final of the World Cup. But his temperament is also expressed in this match. end to the surface. Here too he leaves the field with red: a climax and anti-climax in one.

The images of Zidane, sometimes on the ball but usually just looking at the course of the match and “playing along” by strolling along with the other players, are not exciting in themselves. Because we look purely at Zidane, you hardly get any insight into the course of the match or the game tactics. Those kinds of things don’t matter at all in this documentary. This is not about tension or storylines, and certainly not about the Real Madrid – Villarreal match. The is above all an atmospheric drawing and an exercise in appreciating “the moment”, even when apparently nothing interesting happens at that moment. Only during the interval of the competition does the documentary seem to broaden its scope when random images are shown of what else happened on April 23, 2005: from the rediscovery of a presumed extinct animal species to an attack in Iraq, after which people walk around in disarray. Including a boy in the shirt of… Zidane. The short comments by Zidane himself, shown as subtitles, also give a slightly more subjective picture. We read how Zidane experiences football: how he used to come up with the comments himself, or how fate sometimes seems to have determined the course of the match in advance. But “Zidane: un portrait du XXIème siècle” remains above all an intriguing and open documentary. Not content or meaning, but the magic of the moment. Or, as Zidane himself explains: “Magic is sometimes very close to nothing at all”.

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