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Zizou, Is That You?

I had planned to see the film "Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait" next month at the Smithsonian's HIrshhorn Museum, but lo and behold, while here in Dallas on a basketball assignment, my ace Steve Davis (formerly of the Dallas Morning News) alerted me to a "Zidane" viewing as part of the city's American Film Institute program.

We arrived just in time and joined, among others, Thomas Rongen and some of the U.S. under-20 national team players in a small, crowded auditorium.

How would I describe "Zidane"? Perhaps it is best to first tell you what it is not.

It is not a highlight film.
It is not a documentary.
It is not a life story.
There is no narration, just periodic subtitles streaming Zizou philosophy.

It is, I must say, one of the most unique films I have seen in quite some time. By the end, I felt like I had just visited a contemporary art museum, not a cinema.

The concept was intriguing: 17 cameras trained on Zidane during a Real Madrid match against Villareal in April 2005 at the Bernabeu. The duration of the film is the duration of the match: 90 minutes (well, not exactly 90 because Zizou departs early).

You'll see Zidane from all angles -- in the heat of competition and in the banality of a match that has lost its pace. You'll see tight shots of his feet, of him wiping his nose, of him fixing his socks. You'll see, and hear, him spit. You'll hear the crunch of turf under his boots and brief exchanges with Beckham, Figo and Roberto Carlos.

For most of the match, Zidane's emotions do not waver -- not after being chopped down on a late tackle, not after brilliantly setting up the equalizer in the second half. Even amid 80,000 spectators, Zidane seems so very lonely on the pitch, detached from the breathtaking environment and distant from himself.

The film comes to Washington on Thu., April 19 for one showing only. Admission is free and is on a first-come, first-serve basis, so get there early. Click here for more details.

By Steve Goff  |  March 25, 2007; 1:45 AM ET
Categories:  World  
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