fbpx

Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait

Director: DOUGLAS GORDON, & PHILIPPE PARRENO

FRANCE-ICELAND| 2006. SUBTITLED. COLOUR. DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO. 91 MIN.


THIS PORTRAIT OF SUPERSTAR ZINEDINE ZIDANE IS NOT A CONVENTIONAL DOCUMENTARY BUT A CONCEPTUALLY DARING STUDY THAT CONCENTRATES EXCLUSIVELY ON THE FOOTBALLER DURING A SINGLE LEAGUE MATCH.

The turbulent events on the evening of the World Cup Final can’t help but raise the profile of this hypnotically enveloping filmed portrait of the French midfield maestro—though it’ll even be appreciated by those who know little or care even less about football. That’s because artists Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno have chosen as their subject an individual whose charismatic spell transcends issues of sporting prowess: Zinedine Zidane is simply someone you can’t take your eyes off. The grace of his movement, the brooding presence of his gaze, and a smile as wide as CinemaScope make him absolutely compelling to watch, as a total of seventeen cameras capture his every move in a 2005 Spanish league match against Villarreal.

Fortunately, it proves to be a not uneventful encounter, but the football obviously isn’t the prime concern here. Instead, it’s as the title suggests, an attempt to assess the whole notion of portraiture in an era of increasingly sophisticated image technology. No matter how many cameras we have, can we ever really capture the essence of an individual with the sort of soulfulness mastered by the great painters of the past? It’s no coincidence the film-makers sent the camera operators to the Prado before the game. With the ambient guitar sounds of Mogwai producing a suitably immersive soundscape to accompany the action, this is as much about tracing the dividing line between common humanity and the isolation of genius as it is about the beautiful game. But beautiful it is indeed.—Trevor Johnston.

Book Tickets

}