By | October 25, 2013

I just finished watching Pelada, the documentary that’s been mentioned in class a few times.  It involves a couple that travels around the world playing in pick-up soccer matches in order to immerse themselves in the many different cultures they encounter.  A few of my favorite segments involved a Bolivian prison as well as their attempt at watching a Euro Cup match.  In the first clip, the couple bribes policemen in order to make their way into an infamous Bolivian prison that’s known by many as a “small city, big hell.”  Once they get in, they’re forced to bribe the prisoners that organize soccer matches in order for them to gain entrance onto the field.  Once they play, they bond with prisoners and listen to them tell their stories.  Something that interested me about this was that each of the prisoners they interviewed seemed to have a positive outlook on life in prison (as compared to their previous lives).  In another segment, the couple tries to buy tickets to a Euro Cup match between Spain and Sweden.  When they try and make their way through security, the tickets are discovered to be fakes and the two end up being interrogated for a while by the police.  Eventually, they’re found to be innocent victims and they get escorted out the back entrance of the stadium.  On their way out, they see firemen and paramedics playing a pickup game at the same time as the national match is going on.  Something funny about the scene was that the uniforms these men wore were identical in color to the red and yellow ones that Spain and Sweden wore, respectively.  I found this scene both amusing and inspiring, because it shows the universal love of the game and the lengths people go to experience a match even when they can’t afford to see it in person.  Overall, I’d highly recommend this film to anyone who hasn’t yet watched it.

One thought on “Pelada

  1. Julianna Miller

    I also just finished watching this film and would recommend it to anyone as well. They were able to find pick-up games on all corners of the world, and despite differences in rules, settings, ages, etc., the fervor the players had was the same around the world. Even when they did not speak the native language, the soccer ball they carried around spoke for them, and it said all they needed it to. The ball created a connection and a bridge between cultures from all over the world. I would find myself smiling and vicariously sharing that moment of pure joy when players would score a goal. I found it to be extremely powerful to see how the native people of each country would accept Luke and Gwendolyn in their games and allow them on their teams (even when some of the teams have been together since they were younger). Seeing everyone embrace Luke and Gwendolyn with open arms and create a relationship through the act of playing soccer was truly moving. Another entertaining aspect of the film was how almost everyone reacted with the same amount of awe to Gwendolyn’s talent wherever they went. Whenever she would start playing, spectators and players alike would almost always seem to be overcome with a sense of surprise and would always be impressed with her talents. Lastly, I found the segment on Jerusalem to be particularly intriguing. Throughout the film I had this vision that soccer was escape for many people; an escape from politics, oppression, poverty, etc. I had this vision that when people play the game, that nothing else mattered, however, their experiences in Jerusalem proved this theory to be invalid. While soccer is an escape and a platform for equal/ unity, politics still find their way to the game. All in all, I found this film to be extremely captivating and powerful.


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