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Zinedine Zidane.
Douglas Gordon
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Running Time
95 minutes

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Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait
Zizou and his mad skillz

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Documentary focussing on the footballing career and skills of the great French legend.


It’s been done before — Hellmuth Costard focused solely on George Best playing against Coventry in his 1971 avant-garde offering, Football Like Never Before. But this 17-camera portrait of the artist as an ageing star still captures the magnetism and balletic genius of a player whose reputation will surely survive the naysaying of holier-than-thou commentators following his World Cup 2006 dismissal.
What’s so striking about this compelling collage is Zizou’s expressionless concentration, which seems to isolate him from his Real Madrid team-mates. And it’s this emotional control that makes his  involvement in a penalty-area scrum so surprising and his dispatch to the dressing-room so iconically tragic. Definitely one for footie fans, but probably not for the uninitiated. 

Technically, this documentary draws attention to itself far too often with its tricksy shifts between camera angles and distances. But, as a study in sporting concentration and an avant-garde experiment in spatial disorientation, it's pretty damn impressive.

Reviewed by Patrick Peters

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait
Empire Star Rating

A 21st century yawn

An interesting experiment – focussing entirely on just one player during a football match so as to understand his decision making, his skill, his athleticism, indeed his very presence – doesn’t really pan out in practice. For a start, the match in question (a 2005 meet between Real Madrid and Villareal) is not an interesting one, which even resulted in Zidane being sent off. And then of course there’s the problem with the very expressionless quality of Zinedane Zidane, a ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RJNeb2 at 09:29, 20 April 2014 | Report This Post

Hints of Koyaanisqatsi?

Personally I'm not a fan of football. The game itself I find fairly interesting but the hooliganism and hype that comes along with it angers me. However, Zidane is one of the only footballers I've ever had much respect for - which is the reason I chose to watch this film. And what a great decision! Your average film-goer would most probably hate this film. It seems to lack purpose, plot or structure. However, if one can appreciate the technicalities of the film, the genius of the sound and... More

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Posted by armandarymusic at 20:11, 05 September 2010 | Report This Post

football zzz boring ... More

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Posted by willchadwick at 19:27, 02 October 2008 | Report This Post


This could only really be appreciated by a football afficiondo as you really have to understand the importance of Zidane within the game. Given that, the effect is supremely enigmatic interspersed with moments of brilliance, humour and folly. The use of sound really keeps you in the moment and this could possibly be the ultimate tribute to a truly great footballer. As a film in its own right it doesn't stand for much although there is a certain hypnotic quality to it which is hard to pin down... More

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Posted by qualidad at 12:11, 18 June 2007 | Report This Post


I love football and the excitement it generates, and I love Zidane but if you haven't yet found the cure for insomnia then watch this. ... More

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Posted by zuzino at 19:09, 05 March 2007 | Report This Post

ZIdane: A 21st Century Portrait

A strange, distant yet utterly fascinating look at the greatest footballer of the last 20 years. Not since Diego Maradona has there been a player of such grace, influence and sheer unadulterated talent. Here we see Zidane in all his balletic glory. From the sublime beauty of his football to the unbridled rage that lurks beneath his unbroken exterior, this is an essential yet fleeting experience for any fan who wishes to view the great gallic genius one last time. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Eomer_King at 23:14, 22 January 2007 | Report This Post

Remarkable twist!

I have read several reviews around on the net and I can't belive that no-one even mentions the half time break which features other events that happened on the day the match took place. The film is not as much about Zidane as it is about importance to the individual and events being remembered or forgotten. The film is not a portrait of ZZ but of the 21st century. Can't remember the exact line but it says aolong the lines of 23 April, an ordinary day, will events be remembered or forgotten? ... More

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Posted by banyancafe at 14:41, 05 October 2006 | Report This Post

The Dulling of Genius

I've never been to a film where so many people have walked out of the cinema due to utter boredom. It took an uninspiring game and focused on what amounted to nothing. I was certain that this would be enjoyable, but it was a self-indulgent study in camera work albeit with a cracking soundtrack that led you to believe that something inspiring was about to happen. A shame...since the man's life is exciting, his achievements unsurpassed and he frankly deserved better than this shoddy avant-garde tr... More

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Posted by Fatty at 18:58, 30 September 2006 | Report This Post

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