Zidane - A 21st Century Portrait (DVD)

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Zidane - A 21st Century Portrait (DVD)

Critically acclaimed documentary told completely from the point-of-view of Zinedine Zidane as he participates in the astonishing Real Madrid vs. Villa...

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Review of "Zidane - A 21st Century Portrait (DVD)"

published 02/03/2009 | larsbaby
Member since : 23/05/2007
Reviews : 132
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Hmm I really should write something but I seem to have lost my mojo! AM hoping it returns sometime this decade.
Pro A fascinating study of 90 minutes with a footballing legend
Cons Probably not that interesting for non footy fans
very helpful
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"Sublime footballing artistry from a French master"

DVD box front cover

DVD box front cover


I had heard of this film a while back and was very chuffed when it turned up one year as a Christmas present from Ms Larsbaby. Zidane is a living footballing legend, blessed with sublime skill and grace, his movements easy on the eye for any viewer. This film was basically following the great man around during the course of one of his games.


Zinedine Zidane is possibly one of the greatest footballers ever. Born in 1972, Zidane's parents are immigrants from Algeria, and the young Zidane (or Zizou as he is known) grew up in the cosmopolitan French port of Marseilles. He first played for AS Cannes, moving on to Bordeaux after 4 years. In 1996, after several years of promise and hype (I don't remember him doing anything in Euro 96, personally, despite being the one to watch) he joined the Italian giants Juventus. The next few years would see some of his best football and greatest successes at international level, winning the World Cup in 1998 on home soil (scoring 2 superb headers in the final) and Euro 2000. At 66 million Euros, Zidane became the world's most expensive footballer, joining the Galacticos at Real Madrid in 2001. He retired after the 2006 World Cup in controversial circumstances, receiving a red card in the World Cup Final after headbutting an Italian defender (Zidane later claimed the defender had made some offensive remarks about his family). The picture of the dismissed Zidane trudging past the World Cup on his way back to the dressing room is one that lives long in the memory; a sad ending to a stupendous career.

In his career, Zidane won just about everything a footballer can, including a World Cup, European Championship, Champions League, UEFA Cup, Italian Serie A, Italian Super Cup, Spanish La Liga and Spanish Super Cup. He has 109 French International Caps. He also won FIFA World Player of the Year 3 times; only the Brazilian Ronaldo has matched this.


I guess this isn't such a novel concept, what with player cams on Sky able to track one player for the full game. The basic concept of Zidane is to follow him around with many cameras for the course of a Spanish La Liga game. In this case the game was his team, Real Madrid versus Villareal. This was shot in April 2005, the penultimate season of his career. As the directors call it, it's a 90 minute portrait of an everyday game of his; nothing heroic or special, just someone going about their everyday work. This specific game wasn't chosen for any significance, other than perhaps being at home at the Bernabeu Stadium.

It's a fascinating study into how the great man reacts throughout the game, although in some ways a little dull as not that much actually happens. Mostly you see the great man ambling around, looking quite static compared to the glimpses you have of those players around him (David Beckham in particular seems to be tearing around enthusiastically). Maybe this could be explained by Zidane's and the Spanish league's style, his relative stage of career and the climate. I guess his game was never based on lungbusting box to box play, and he certainly ambles around a lot, with brief bursts of acceleration. In this respect it's a fascinating study of how a player can influence and at times dictate a game without running round like a headless chicken; perhaps something for British footballers to study and ponder. Having said that, the Madrid fans always recognised and appreciated Beckham's industry and there is evidence aplenty of that here from this member of the supporting cast.

But this is really all about Zidane. There are all sorts of shots here, from wide angle shots to close ups. Sometimes the shot is right to his head, catching every expression and the sweat pouring off him. Sometimes it's a blurry longshot with accompanying Spanish commentary. Sometimes a class passage of skill is replayed. You even get a quick tour of the back of the stadium, deserted whilst everyone is packed into the stands, which you see from behind.

At times you gain a sense of the overall game, with the thumping beats and noise from the crowd and the behaviour of Zidane interacting with his team mates indicating how the game is going for his team.

I don't get the impression that Zidane is playing to the cameras, even though he is fully aware of them. I would imagine it wasn't on his mind at all and he was totally focused on the game.


You do seem some interesting little details; occasionally there are subtitles with some of Zidane's thoughts during a game, such as shutting out the noise of a crowd, unless it is going badly in which case his is acutely aware of their displeasure. Little cameos with him team mates seem quite telling; the quick mutual backslap with Beckham, a little joke shared with Roberto Carlos. Zidane doesn't seem very vocal during a game, in fact he mostly seem to say "hey!" to get his teammates attention. Once he says "balle" to himself which I think means "OK" in Spanish. He admonishes a referee for a decision that goes against Real Madrid ("you should be ashamed of yourself").


And yet, the occasional sight of the balletic grace of Zidane on the ball makes it worth the while; the pinpoint cross after a burst of acceleration, the ball glued to his foot control, the space found where there is none. Interestingly enough, he never seems to be closely man marked and always seems to be in space, even though he hardly seems to get the ball throughout the game. The conclusion of the film is quite interesting; all I will say is it's quite representative!


What is clever is the interweaving of history; various concurrent events around the world are shown by way of comparison and it's pondered on how such a day could be notable purely for this game of football. The background music from Indie instrumentalists Mogwai seems to fit the mood perfectly, from one camera angle to the next. Sometimes the music softly accompanies the images, sometimes it's the pure noise of the crowd interspersed with Spanish commentary. There is enough variation in the background ambience to keep it interesting.


You can select the scenes as per most DVDs. Special features are:


Zidane tells us how he got involved in the film and his impressions of it. He was introduced to the directors via mutual acquaintances and liked them and their ideas.


Why they picked Zidane for the film, and how they set about filming. I found this a bit boring to be honest; it went on far too long. It was interesting to hear that they used 17 cameras in the stadium. The directors seem to be more artists using the medium of film that film makers per se.


One of the longest making of documentaries I've ever seen, running for 41 minutes, but certainly of interest. We see how the logistics of the camera set up were worked out and how the crew preparing for the shoot, as well as the production team in the background. During the shoot, you can see them trying to ensure that everything went smoothly. They used one man on the empty pitch to get all the camera positions and angles right before the shoot. They gathered the best camera assistants in the world for this shoot, which is pretty impressive.

There is also more of the interview with Zidane; it's quite apparent he's very pleased with the end result. It seems that Zidane was their only choice for this project; had he said no, they wouldn't have picked another player. You also see the crew treated to a private viewing in the Prado gallery, which must have been very enjoyable for them.

We also see some of the post production work, and how Mogwai got involved with the project.


Basically an apology from Zidane for not attending the premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, as he was in training for the 2006 World Cup. How 30 seconds of this counts as a special feature I don't know, though he does say how proud of the film he is and he looks it, too.


The cinematic trailer for the film.


19 still images from the film. Nothing really mind blowing here, mostly close up stills of Zidane's face.


One page written biographies of the film makers. The Frenchman Perreno makes work that revolves around the nature of an image. The Scot Douglas apparently epitomises a new fluidity, which has developed between video and film.


For any footy fan who has followed the career of this legend, it's a fascinating insight into both the skill and psyche of the man. With everything going on here, the film goes amazingly quickly. Some of the extras seem to go on for far too long in my opinion, but would be of more interest to filmmakers rather than football fans. In conclusion I'd say the film is highly recommended for football fans and film makers; probably like watching paint dry for others. Ms Larsbaby was doing Sudoku while this was on and she was the one who got it for me!


Actors: Zinédine Zidane
Directors: Douglas Gordon, Philippe Parreno
Producers: Anna Vaney, Sigurjon Sighvatsson, Victorien Vaney
Format: Anamorphic, PAL
Language French
Subtitles: English
Region: Region 2 ( DVD formats.)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs: 1
Classification: PG
Studio: Artificial Eye
DVD Release Date: 29 Jan 2007
Run Time: 97 minutes
Main Language: French
Available Audio Tracks: Dolby Digital 5.1
Sub Titles: English
Interviews with Zinedine Zidane, Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno
2 making of documentaries

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Comments on this review

  • danielleg1989 published 12/11/2009
    Back with your E x
  • danielleg1989 published 09/11/2009
    Absolutely brilliant review, i will be back with a E x
  • xxfoxyredxx published 05/11/2009
    Brilliant review x
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Manufacturer's product description

Critically acclaimed documentary told completely from the point-of-view of Zinedine Zidane as he participates in the astonishing Real Madrid vs. Villareal, game, filmed on 23rd April 2005.


Listed on Ciao since: 24/02/2007