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on 18 November 2006
I think this film is a gem. It is unique and therefore criticism of the film must be put into context. The review I am responding to awarded the film Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait just 1 star. This is extremelely unfair and the author of that review needs to understand what this film is, and what it is not.

The cameras follow Zidane, and only Zidane. You see Zidane on the ball and off the ball throughout a single match playing for Real Madrid v Villareal for almost 90 minutes, in real time. There are close up's of his feet, the back of his head, his wrists and also his face. It shows Zidane brooding,then bursting into a run, sharing a joke with Roberto Carlos and then a burst of pace as he lights up the screen with his skill

The music by Mogwai is haunting, downbeat, and it fades in and out as we read Zidane's thoughts about childhood and the game of life.

Paradoxically it shows Zidane as a person known and watched by millions, and yet seemingly alone and brooding on the football pitch itself. He is without doubt next to the likes of Ronaldo, Beckham and Ronaldinho one of the best known footballers on the planet. Interestingly, at half time the film scans the world to show some of the serios and quirky news stories of the day - (putting the game into a word context) It shows a picture from Iraq as a small boy throws a brick at occupying troops - the boy wears a Zidane shirt! After half time we are back to the action - and a dramtic ending.

What this film is not - is a film of a football match, it is about Zidane. It is not full of dialogue, and I would warn the viewer that whilst it is exciting it is not exciting in a classical sense. Like Zidane it is a brooding film, but I think a thought provoking film both in terms of its concept and content.

The Guardian said "... film becomes a hypnotic experience to which you must simply abandon yourself." I think that is true, you need to be patient and absorb the film and enjoy it.
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on 18 June 2011
This is probably one of the most boring DVDs I've ever watched. I can appreciate the fact that it's not a film of a match but of one man. You would expect to admire the beauty of the shots at least. But it is filmed in such a way that many of the times ZZ actually touches the ball you can only see him from the waist up! You don't see where the ball comes from or where it goes, so you have no idea of whether he's made a great shot or an appalling gaffe. What we do get in between times are endless shots of ZZ sweating, spitting and scuffing his toes on the grass. He may be a great footballer (you have no way of telling from this DVD) but he is boring to watch - expressionless, slow moving and mute except for the odd "hey! hey!".

As others have said, the way the film is shot robs ZZs actions of all meaning. You don't know which team has the ball, which way play is going, where ZZ is on the pitch. You can see him sweating profusely but he doesn't appear to be doing anything. You can see him getting annoyed but you have little idea at what. And the near permanent close up makes every one seem like they are just strolling about.

In short the makers have managed to make a potentially interesting subject and an exciting game appear mindnumbingly boring.

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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 January 2010
I'm a football fan, but I watched this with my girlfriend, who isn't. She enjoyed it- I didn't.

As the positive reviews so far say, you don't really get a sense of the football in this film. Half the time you're not sure which camera angle you're viewing from, which way the goal is, which team has the ball- it's just endless footage of Zidane running, looking, jogging, stopping. It's not even the complete game- you don't get the kick off, or the final whistle. Don't think that watching this is going to be anything like watching normal football coverage on TV.

But the problem is, it fails as an art-house film too. There's no real sense of insight into Zidane's personality, or emotion, or any real sensation of being drawn into the match or the player in any way. It is marketed as a 'portrait' and that's quite apt- it's just ninety minutes of watching a portrait photo, of somebody who happens to be running around. Zidane happens to be crucial to the game itself, yet he's so expressionless it falls terribly flat. He smiles once. He gets angry once. And seriously, that's all you get.

I'm giving it 2 stars for effort and for the excellent (but totally out of place) soundtrack by Mogwai but overall it's neither good for football fans nor good for lovers of film artistry.
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on 4 March 2013
Zidane is pure class. Zizou is a legend for me and my friends. This guy was the peak of footballing ability and status for my generation.

This film though is dull and long. I know it's a match but it's really, really, dull for a long time.

The music is great, Mogwai, but in this setting adds to the lethargy of the film.

Zidane's genius still shines through but I would have much preferred a feature length documentary from and about the man accompanied by clips of his brilliance. Oh well... back to YouTube I guess.

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on 28 January 2015
All joking aside, I had a wisdom tooth pulled yesterday. Today I have had to endure this. Given the choice again I would be winging my way back to the dentist chair. This is the poorest thing I have ever endured, and I am both a film and football fanatic. Its a poorly filmed football match with all the emphasis on the great man barely touching the ball at all. You learn absolutely nothing about him whatsoever. Apart from the fact that he turns his head a lot and drags his feet. How he let this pass is unbelievable, money must of been incredibly tight. I am stunned that this was released. And I say this as someone who has sat through 'the english patient.'
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on 26 February 2007
I think like any piece of art, this will evoke emotions of a very broad range. If you're looking for a game of football and Zidane starring as the main man, don't even consider buying this. If however, you're looking for an insight into who Zidane is, his nuances and idiosyncrasies, look no further. From his occasional shouts of encouragement, to his dismissive contempt for the referee who gets a decision wrong, to the way he drags his studs in the turf as he walks rather disconsolately, the man exudes intensity and just when you think he's dour and uncharismatic, an exchange between him and Roberto Carlos provokes a huge smile for a minute that makes you think "What does make the guy tick?" As a profile of a footballer, it's very subtle in the most un-subtle of atmospheres. You feel as if you're actually with him on the pitch, as he talks under his breath, you hear his breathing and the grass beneath his feet as he walks around. Douglas Gordon has done a fantastic job and this from the man who gave us 24-hour Psycho!

Have a spare 90 minutes to yourself for some quiet reflection? Watch and immerse yourself in Zidane's world.
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on 5 January 2008
As a football supporter and a fan of daring and original cinema I was genuinely excited at the prospect of Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno's 21st Century Portrait of Zinedine Zidane. With 17 cameras trained on the great French midfielder, I was expecting a truly revealing insight into the mind of a professional sportsmen - at least that's what the filmmakers have sold this film as. Instead we only see what we already know footballers do: sweat and spit alot, harry opponents, foul, dribble and snipe at the ref. In terms of sporting insight we certainly understand less about Zidane's famed footballing intelligence than we would be watching the game on television. By focusing on the player only, we can't see how his contribution affects the game globally, what marks him out a master tactician.

The filmmakers seem to have gambled on Zidane's iconic, brooding look on carrying the film alone, buoyed by some moody incidental music by Scottish post rockers Mogwai. But the dirge-like score is less interesting than the sound of the crowds watching the game, that have seemingly been mixed with more thought than the images themselves. We are treated to a few of Zidane's words - albeit in subtitle only - in specific reference to the ways that the noise from the spectators permeates the player's consciousness. More insight like this might have raised this experiment above the mundane, but unfortunately such pearls of wisom are in a distinct minority. In all, this is exceptionally tedious. Less interesting, in fact, than watching the full 90 minutes of an inconsequential end of season La Liga match - which this was.
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on 1 April 2009
I am not so much a football fan but the mogwai soundtrack is what made me purchase this dvd and I feel now it is one of the best films I have seen, listening to mogwai I imagine events unfolding with grace and build up, the way this is filmed perfectly aligns with the music and becomes an audio visual experience that should be on blu-ray. I am in my own world listening to mogwai and zidanes personality is that of someone who is inhis own world, utterly focused and childlike in his approach and imagination, almost as though he wasnt part of a team but in his own sense of time, it feels like he is playing on different level as though everything around him were a blur. he is calm and thoughtful even in the frenzy and action all around him, it becomes a calming experience to watch him and puts you in the same frame of mind, such as mogwai aim too acheive with thier music. I dont follow football but can appreiciate it and more than anything else in this portrait of a man that was on the football as an artist with his brush, he feels like the catalyst of each match, the changing moment, and the film just flows along beautifully. i urge people who are into reflective and thoughtful yet exciting music and art to see this film.
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on 30 April 2012
This was probably an interesting idea on paper. It may even be an interesting and well crafted exercise in film making but, whatever it is, it isn't a film about football. There's insufficient context by which to understand what Zidane is responding to or to become personally engaged by the game. Perhaps I was expecting a different film but with reviews like those on the box calling it the greatest film about football ever made what was I supposed to think? Of course everyone must make up their own mind about it but it seems that the pitch is misleading.
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on 16 August 2014
Stunning close up of Zidane which almost give you the experience of being on the football field; the mud, the noise, the crowd, the sound of the boot hitting the ball, the aggression, the risk of injury - none of polish of Match of the Day with highlights and replays - this is the real thing!
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