Zinedine Zidane has gone through quite a lot since his installation-portrait by Philippe Pareno, and Douglas Gordon premiered at Cannes in May 2006. As everyone knows, he was sent off during the final of the World Cup when he head-butted Marco Materazzi after he insulted the footballer. But the pundits reasoning always comes out in Zidane’s favor saying Materazzi must have said something unforgivable for Zidane to be willing to throw it all away just like that. They further go on to justify his actions and even call them heroic. The crime was the extenuating circumstance in itself.
The endlessly repeated clip of this incident, a moment of open brutality, showed violence still had the shock power on screen. The incident makes the portrait even more prescient and mesmeric. The camera tracks Zidane both on and off the ball during the match in real time. Bursting into a run, brooding, trudging about, and then getting sent off. A moment that perplexed and captivated the world of football.
Melancholy, plangent music fades in and out as Zidane’s thoughts on childhood, memory, and football appear on screen. There are some shots of the ground and clips of television coverage. But mostly, it is about Zidane, front, and center.
Zidane’s charisma accumulates as the film goes on and sort of becomes a sort of hypnotic experience to which you need to abandon yourself. The final foul shows somewhere in Zidane’s imperious, massive hauteur, there’s an ugly and reckless side too. Surreally, he is able to achieve the presence and status of Coriolanus, a martial hero with uncontrolled anger and severity. It’s a must-see for people interested in football as well as anyone who wants to see how cinema can capture portraiture and stillness, how it could do without the conventions of documentary and fiction. He was a true football legend and this film is a true work of art.