One Beautiful Game

One Beautiful Game

One Beautiful Game

Slate's guide to consuming culture.
June 23 2010 10:20 AM

One Beautiful Game

Soccer, watched on television, can be a difficult game for the casual fan to get into—the wide-angle lens that squeezes the whole field onscreen can make the players look like so many hepped-up ants. In Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait , a 2006 documentary/art film about Zinedine Zidane (pre-head-butt), the filmmakers take the opposite approach: For 90 minutes of a 2005 Real Madrid game, they train their cameras on the French star almost exclusively and in varying degrees of close-up, with virtually no dialogue beyond some midgame chatter. Zidane spends much of the game standing, strolling, waiting to pounce. We see his feet tapping, his sweat dripping, several elegant explosions of footwork and athleticism—and once, a big smile. The result is an oddly mesmerizing rumination on what it takes to be a soccer star.

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Noreen Malone is a senior editor at New York magazine.