World Cup Countdown

Zinedine Zidane

In preparation for the 2010 World Cup kick-off this Friday, we’ll look a four soccer films. First up is Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2006) by Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno. Who was this movie made for? Not soccer fans. You don’t see much of the game (Real Madrid v Villarreal), and it doesn’t showcase Zizou’s mad skillz (you can see oodles of clips on the net). Instead you have a meditation, shot with 17 stadium cameras intercut with TV broadcast footage and playing against a soundscape of crowd noise that fades in and out of a soundtrack by Mogwai. Titles in all caps pop up randomly, banal phrases like: MY MEMORIES OF GAMES AND EVENTS ARE FRAGMENTED.

Much of the time a camera tracks Zidane in a medium shot as he strolls, jogs or runs, the game flowing around him, his expression unreadable. He’s got a great face for inscrutability: deep set eyes hidden in the darkness under formidable brows, fierce cheekbones and a hawk-like nose. The portrait is one of disconnect, solitude, stoicism. The player is rootless, unknowable, moving with unknown purpose through and around a crowd. Some of his players work with him, others against him. In the end, there is a scuffle and our hero is ejected.

It’s an odd movie. You can watch it here.

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