Zinedine Zidane is among the most celebrated athletes in European football; playing for Real Madrid, the Frenchman has earned a reputation for graceful yet aggressive play and a confrontational style.

Gordon and Parreno have made a film about Zidane, but viewers of Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait will learn nothing about his life off the field, and only so much about his work on it.

Instead of telling Zidane’s life story, the filmmakers set up 17 cameras around the field (with the help of cinematographer Darius Khondji) for a April 23, 2005, game against Villarreal and carefully followed Zidane throughout the game, even when he wasn’t in play.

The subsequent footage was used to create a portrait in motion of the athlete, much in the manner of a painter or photographer, accompanied by excerpts from recorded interviews in which the footballer discusses his attitude toward the game and his feelings on the field.

Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (aka Zidane: Un Portrait du XXIe Siecle) was screened at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival as part of the Visions series, devoted to maverick filmmaking from around the world.

zidane movie

User Reviews

I must admit I liked the concept. I would have preferred it had he not known he was being filmed at the time but thats not important. Here we got a film documentation “art piece” portraying the football star of choice in a completely new way. The cameras shoot him and only him most of the time in close up throughout the entire duration of the film and only on rare occasion and with good reason does it choose not to on interval. Here we follow, at times surprisingly poetically his heart throughout the 2005 game of France vs Brazil, not that we actually see the game as much as Zidane’s contribution, at times useful, other times vacant. I like how the director plays with sounds and effects in a manner that effects our emotions and expectations. However I do believe that this film could have been done equally effective on a lower budget. Well three cheers to Douglas Gordan!


Having studied gordon’s work at the miro and moma nyc i can safely say that this piece is among the most rooted in the artists language. Density and sparseness intertwine to create a tense verbiage that leaves the focus far outside of convenient folklore while consistently challenging modern appreciation of linear time and function. Mogwai’s oft derelict tone of mood transists, among other things, a harbored safe-house, nestled not so quietly in the forefront of the experience; guiding the participant in to the structured atmosphere of endangered learnings. Practical and theoretic animalism lead our ill-struck hero through a plot that escapes both need and want while a simple breath tells life-long tales of desire, hope and understanding. thank god the sounds of movement are placed excruciatingly high in the mix. without the jarring judgement that is exacted through the audio, the audience would be jettison into a conformity of thought aligned to thoughtless charity. Benevolent audacity provides a searing backbone for a film that arcs both the philosophy of time and the simplicity of humbled meditation.

zidane the movie


I believe this film gains value in a second and third watching. As mentioned in the comment below at times you can not see the ball, other players, or some other part of the action; however I find that if you are familiar with playing the sport the feeling the movie can give is at times frighteningly close to what can be experienced in a competitive game.

The sound is incredible throughout.

There are attempts made with the cinematography that seem a bit foolish and feel like a digression from what I have taken so far to be the point or theme or just main idea that it leaves me with – a small glance at one of sport’s most prodigious talents as himself in his element. If you are a Zidane fan, I would highly suggest this movie. Whether you find it to be a blemish on the face of modern art or a work of genius it will only re-affirm your love for his footballing talents.

I also think that this movie will never be released in the US because the general public does not possess the general knowledge of football or the interest for it to be a fiscally sound idea. So to all the yanks interested in this movie plan a trip across the pond, pick it up and try to go see a real match!


Magnificently edited and accompanied by a majestic score from Scottish post-rock band Mogwai, this is not only the greatest football movie ever made, but also one of the finest studies of man in the workplace. Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait is an extraordinary, breathtaking ode to the loneliness of the athlete and the poise and resilience of the human body.

zidane the movie