Toward A Twenty-First Century Portraiture

Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, Directed by Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno

Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, Directed by Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno

Those of you who skipped last night’s 1/3 movie night at Bela Dubby really missed a doozy. Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait is an entirely unique cinematic experience, a film unlike any other. Training seventeen cameras at Zinedine Zidane playing his final game for Real Madrid in April 2005, the filmmakers capture not just a character or personality but a person, plain and simple. Zidane expands the possibilities of conventional portraiture to include time, allowing the artist to capture things like habit and mannerism, aspects of personality and behavior even Carravaggio couldn’t reproduce due to the limitations of paint. 

The film removes all cinematic conventions that aren’t integral to the medium; narrative, character development and plot structure are all rejected, enabling a thorough interrogation of the possibilities of light, color, sound and motion. It’s almost like a cinematographic version of a painting by Jackson Pollock: an omnidimensional field in all four dimensions, wholly engrossing and uplifting if one let’s oneself be swept along. It’s the ultimate film about film — or the possibilities of film — exploring its affordances like nothing I’ve seen before.