More than halfway through this biopic about the greatest football player in the world, you will see the great man show up himself for a small cameo. After the actor who is playing a young Pele nearly runs into him in the lobby of a hotel, Pele faces the camera and utters one line before smiling broadly. It is a delightful moment. This dazzling flash does much more to explain why he became an icon as compared to the movie.
The movie, which recounts his amazing journey from a slum in Brazil to super stardom with Brazil’s first World Cup title in 1958. This movie will please aficionados, but it doesn’t have the spark needed to attract non-fans.
The story starts with a 9-year-old Pele, or Dico, as he was known then, playing bare feet on the streets of his village. He promises his father after Brazil lost the final of the 1950 World Cup that he is going to win the World Cup for them some day. We aren’t sure whether this actually happened, but it helped make the movie more dramatic for sure.
It was his unorthodox style of play which led to many conflicts with coaches until he was spotted by Vicente Feola who was more than happy to support his fluid “Ginga” style of play.
Even though the dramatization of the movie is by-the-numbers, the football has been staged superbly with inventive editing and photographic techniques that completely and totally immerse the viewer.
Ironically, though, the most exciting parts of the movie are when the end credits are rolling. Here, black and white footage from the 1958 World Cup final as well as various other highlights from the legendary career of this superstar is showcased. A must watch for any die-hard fans of the player and the game itself.