Rotterdam / Zidane: A 21st century portrait / Film festival Rotterdam


Zidane: A 21st century portrait is in fact an Ennio Morricone western: camera at eye-level and long close-ups of the protagonist. Zidane moves slowly, his face never reveals any emotion, sweat pours down his head. He patiently scans the game with eagle-eyes until he suddenly and fiercely strikes: the classic shoot-out.

Zidane: A 21st century portrait is a feature film by the artists Philip Parreno and Douglas Gordon. In 2005 they filmed football player Zined ine Zidane during the match Real Madrid – Villa Real with seventeen film camera’s. In the movie we follow in real-time Zidane, Zidane, Zidane and more … Zidane, scarcely alternated with fragments from a live report on Spanish television.
Zidane’s face reminds me of the legendary late Lee van Cleef, ‘the bad’ in ‘The good the bad and the ugly’. Zidane is as great an actor: maximum expression and emotion by doing absolutely nothing; Parreno and Gordon have managed to create a true film character.
On another level the artists create a tension between Hollywood-like stardom and artistic reflection. By enacting the same scrutinizing of stars as Hollywood tabloids, and by making an ultra realistic study of Zidane purely as football player. Exactly that contrast reminds me of Andy Warhol works, such as the annoyingly popular Marilyn Monroe prints and tedious, unbearable films such as Sleep, a six-hour film of a sleeping man.

And not to forget, the film has a spectacular ending (I won’t spoil it), a cliffhanger, truly like in a 21st century western.

Ps. for football fans only: the film perfectly reveals (unintentionally I guess) the reason for Madrids sportive failing that season, since Zidane doesn’t pick up defensive duties for a second… but hey, doesn’t he looks great on camera?!

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