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Dragging feet with Zinedine Zidane

Posted at 6:03 PM on February 8, 2007 by Euan Kerr (14 Comments)

It's a sad reality that French soccer star Zinedine Zidane will be best remembered by the vast majority of the world as the guy who ended his career by head-butting an Italian in the World Cup final.

For soccer fans he was an electrifying mid-fielder who made plays and scored goals. He was an international icon who had fought his way up from the streets of Marseilles to play for France and Real Madrid.

You can get a glimpse of that story during the Walker Art Center's Expanding the Frame series this weekend with the screening of "Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait."

Film makers Douglas Gordon and Phillipe Parreno set up 17 cameras around the Real Madrid stadium and tracked Zidane, and only Zidane, for an entire match during 2005.

Soccer fans looking for a fast-paced soccer movie will be frustrated. Global stars such as Beckham and Ronaldo flit by unacknowledged in the background. This is not their film.

This is a study of a man moving through space and time. We get to watch him, not what he is watching. As is the case with most ballgame playing team athletes, there is a whole lot more watching than actual time with the ball. In fact Zidane makes a point of getting rid of the ball just as soon as he gets it. Most of the time we see him walking or jogging into what he hopes will be a good position. We see him thinking, kicking his feet, spitting, and scratching. At times he takes off like a cheetah to get the ball.

And occasionally, very occasionally, he creates soccer magic.

It is those moments that made him famous. The other unglamorous moments are what lead to the limelight.

"Zidane" is both mesmerizing, and confusing, which is not necessarily a bad thing. How often do we unwaveringly watch one person for 90 minutes? Never. What do we learn? Not much really. Is this watching? If you can shed your expectations and open yourself to a new experience, yes, very much so.

A side note: Apparently there are soccer coaches all over the metro area talking to their teams about coming to see this film. The Minnesota Thunder has signed on as a co-sponsor of the event. I am really eager to hear how that turns out. This really is an art film more than a soccer film. The cineheads will love it. Younger soccerheads may find it a challenge

Comments (14)

zidaneis the best soccer player in the world not ronaldinho.

Posted by kebba | February 8, 2007 9:15 PM

Your article says more about you than it does about Zidane. "The vast majority of the world" ?? really?? or the vast majority of the arrogant,soccer hating, ethnocentric US public? You clearly have no clue about what Zidane means to the rest of the world and what he has meant to the game these past dozen years..his legacy and place in world sporting history is secure regardless of what holier than thou US media outlets think of the headbutt. The irony here is that if he hadn't headbutted Materazzi you wouldn't even be talking about him. Christ! you can't even spell his name.

Posted by nina | February 8, 2007 9:27 PM

And hello to you too, Nina. Apologies for the spelling, I was rushed at the time. My question to you is: did you actually read the post?

Posted by Euan Kerr | February 8, 2007 10:17 PM

okay you're right and i apologize but your opening statement just made my blood boil and caused me to lose all perspective from that point on.So you do know what you're talking about and you do respect Zidane but it's unfortunate that you chose to use the words you used to start your article. I'm so tired of US media always bashing the guy...and it's always US media. Even post-headbutt, articles continue to appear that praise the man and give him the respect he deserves but they're always non-US publications. Obviously the majority of the world still fairly worships Zidane as a god for all his accomplishments and amazing talent but here he's a pariah and that's not fair and the media isn't helping . Just once i would love to see an article by a US writer that points out how Magic Johnson once said (after seeing Zidane play) that Zidane was more talented than him and Michael Jordan put together; how he is considered the greatest player of his generation (which is also Beckham's generation and how Beckham by his own admission doesn't hold a candle to him) Instead we get lame references to that headbutt...oh I also noticed that Marco Materazzi was recently headbutted again for shooting off his big obnoxious mouth and that got huge press the world over but no mention stateside..even Materazzi's scumbag reputation is never mentioned here. I noticed one comment on YouTube that said the Pope himself would headbutt Materazzi if he could so most people don't really see it as that big of a crime but the self righteous hand wringing, "what do we tell the children ?" type editorials are usually US based. Writers such as yourself wield a lot of influence and power so i just wish you (not you exactly but your peers) would use your bully pulpits to help change opinions instead of rehashing the same tired phrases : He ended his career in "infamy", he is now "notorious" and "controversial"...AARGH!! it's like a mantra or something. Writers keep saying it and people keep believing what they read... anyway, sorry for dissing you and sorry if this turned into a rant and thanks for responding to my comment.

Posted by nina | February 9, 2007 3:15 AM

What Zidane can do with his feet, the best American athletes can not do with their hands, such as quarter backs. To say He will only be remembered for his headbutt is quite pretentious to say the least. Just try to watch a video clip of his goal against Leverkusen, I'm sure can can find it on youtube...


Posted by Azzar | February 9, 2007 5:24 AM

wow nina, I am in complete agreement with you. ever time I see an article about Zidane and "his notorious headbutt" explaining who he is, I know only an American could have written it. The self righteous hand-wringing (exact words I would have used) is completely disrespectful. Maradona was a coke-sniffing genius who was kicked out of his last World Cup and I have seen nasty footage of the man starting a huge brawl in a game but kicking several times his opponents but he is still spoken of as either the greatest or the second greatest (after Pele) fooball player ever. My regret about Zidane's headbutt is that if for that he would have rightfully joined the two as the third greatest player in history.

Let's not bash this film critic though, as he has appreciated the artistry of this film and has given Zidane respect - he was just explaining to his American readers in ways they would understand.

Posted by iorek | February 9, 2007 6:58 AM

for long time, americans showed us the the glamourous side of player named beckham. little do we really see anything bad that becks has done
my question is why would we focus on the negative things that zidane has done. and if article about him has to include the infamous headbut

Posted by cadnaan | February 9, 2007 10:50 AM

Well, I apologize for upsetting people with the first line, but here is my issue: I am writing about film events in a specific area of the US.

I would argue that, and again I say sadly, the first thing that the vast majority of people around the world think of when they hear his name is what happened during the World Cup final.

Many people, in fact probably the majority, will then go on to remember his amazing playing.

But to write about him, particularly in a one-off piece like this for a non-soccer audience, and not mention the World Cup would be at best silly, and at worst dereliction of duty.

It's a no-win situation.

But here are a couple of questions to ponder: if you believe there is really no such thing as bad publicity, and given there are tens of thousands of people here in snow-ridden Minnesota who are playing regularly and want to learn more about the game they love, isn't it better to talk about a film about soccer in the context people understand?

Secondly: have any of you Zidane fans seen the film? If so, what did you think? (This is after all a film blog.)

Posted by Euan Kerr | February 9, 2007 11:53 AM

There is nothing wrong with your first sentence or the whole article. Zidane's conduct in that moment of the World Cup final will stick in the minds of most people, whether his fans like it or not. He was also a mesmerising, unique, stylish player who has earned legions of admirers, many of whom (like nina) can't come to terms with the fact that his sorry conduct in that moment has soiled his image.

Posted by marcus | February 9, 2007 2:18 PM

I got this on DVD the moment it came out at the end of January (I have a code-free DVD player) and have to say as a fan of soccer it was fantastic to watch.

It's certainly different from any game that you have seen on television and Zidane in an interview on the DVD (extra features) was saying the same thing...that you don't get to view the field as he does because you're not seeing the field from his viewpoint, but seeing him on the field, however you do get sort of a glimpse on what it might feel like for him in a day at the office.

And something to notice is his first touch of the ball...just incredible throughout his career and in this game he shows some of that fabulous touch and (pseudo-Spoiler Alert!) the run he makes with the ball setting up Ronaldo with a picture perfect pass is worth the price of admission.

Part of the appeal of a guy like Zidane is how effortless he makes the game appear and how easily he controls and protects the ball while finding teammates and hitting them in stride with perfect weight. I finished the DVD with the sense that from a casual fan's perspective, they might rather see a film like this on C. Ronaldo or Ronaldinho (not bad choices) because of their flashiness.

Also, ironically (and ominously), he gets red carded in this game for choking an opposing player (both get sent off) and talks about how rare it was for him to do such a thing in the DVD interview, which was conducted before the 2006 WC.

One of the funnier moments of the film is after Villarreal scores on a PK (Riquelme puts it in) on a questionable call from the referee and up to this point (between 30-45 minutes or so) Zidane hasn't said much at all, ZZ walks up to the ref and says "you should be ashamed" and walks away. It almost appeared as if he saddened the ref.

One wish I had with the DVD is that I feel like they could've put in as an extra the actual televised game. It would've been interesting from both a soccer and artistic perspective to first watch the film and then see the game how we normally view it. Would've helped with the perspective.

Also, be prepared for an incredible amount of spitting!

Posted by Juicebox | February 9, 2007 6:01 PM

I never read such a stupid ever comment about don't know nothing about football man ...Zidane was the best player for the last 20 years far better than Cruif or Platini...A dribbler out of this world ...You American media are awfull....
Dominique from Canada...
The final World cup was a total Set up made by the Italians...Dixit Spike Lee...Italians are well known to cheat and dive...They did it against Australia also....

As far as Matterazzi a book deal...and his records speak for himself

Posted by Dominique | February 9, 2007 9:07 PM

Zidane will be remembered for his idiocy more than anything else. Dominique is a bigot.
Here you go Dominique, try not to be too much of a hypocrite and get an education.

Anyone relying on whatever that bias midget Spike Lee has to say is clearly a moron. Get an education you dumb tart.

Posted by Spike Lee is a Bigot | February 10, 2007 9:06 PM

great idea juicebox!! that would be amazing to see the actual televised game along with the film. I am also aching to see it on the big screen as having to watch it on a computer monitor doesn't do it justice. The cinematography, sound and the music by Mogwai are all just mindblowing. There's this almost overwhelming sense of sadness and loneliness about Zidane. The isolation inspite of being surrounded by thousands of spectators really made a big impact. i read somewhere that the filmmakers were upset that the integrity of the game may have been compromised by their presence because the opposing team resented the cameras and the players said they were going to do everything they could so Zidane would have a bad game. Also..Zidane truly belongs in front of a camera - i know i'm going to sound like a drooly fangirl and yes, this is like porno for me...but, but, but it's Zidane's expression that just captivates. Everyone compares his impassiveness to an Easter Island statue and i can see why. You just can't take your eyes off him- he really is striking.

Posted by nina | February 15, 2007 6:36 PM

I love u guyys 4 prasing da GREATEST PLAYER EVER, ZIZOU is an artist, everything he dos is mindblowing, as sum1 commented earlier , u jst cnt take ur eye off him, it feels as ur lookin at great statue n asking ur self questions how can sum1 b so great yet so human. its jst incredible. teres no player as humble as ZIZOU which stands em out of da rest, pele or zizou r no where as humble as him dey r ofcos great players but no where as humble down2earth as ZIZOU. i never liked footie but after seeing ZIZOU 4 da 1st time in match i jst started loving da beautiful game cos he shows wat footballs all bout. hes jst so incredible. i miss em so much wen i see realmadrid it appears as ur watching a film without an artist, i jst wana say thankyou ZIZOU MERCI ZIZOU.

Posted by Yawar | May 20, 2007 4:05 AM

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