Since it’s release in 2006, the film Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait has garnered effusive praise from some quarters and sharp criticism from others. While it had a long run in theaters in France as well as being shown commercially in the U.K. and other European countries, in the U.S. it has only been shown in small art houses and film festivals. David Fellerath nicely summed up the diverse responses to the film in his description in the Independent this week.
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The film’s directors, Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno, have a background on experimental contemporary art, including video installations, and the film is also clearly an experiment. (Whether it is a success of failure as such is the key question). Like many other experimental films, it presents its argument not so much through narrative or exposition but through form. It is, it seems to me, an attempt to represent sport in a way that is radically different from the kinds of portrayals were are used to, which either provide us a global picture of live game or else highlights that emphasize the climaxes of the game over the empty spaces in between. Of course, it is also a portrait of Zidane, and the reactions to the film also have much to do with the very different ways people see him as both a player and an icon.
Here’s what one viewer who saw the movie at Duke September 8th had to say about the film, and the audience…
Click here (and scroll down) for a funny account of trying, and failing, to see the film at one of the rare screenings in the U.S.
Here are a links to some other reviews and online discussions of the film:
— Laurent Dubois