Pelé Forever review

:. Director: Anibal Massaini Neto
:. Genre: Documentary
:. Running Time: 2:05
:. Year: 2005
:. Country: Brazil


For soccer fans and especially those who hold Pelé dear to their heart, Pelé Forever is a whirlwind of his most glorious moments on the field, goal after goal after goal. For those who aren't as familiar with the legend, the film is a great introduction for a new generation to witness his unparalleled talent, discipline and passion for "The Beautiful Game".

"This film is the Bible of Pelé", says Pelé. Which must mean he's God. A saint to lovers of the sport and a hero to many in the world; he personifies Brazil. He won three World Cups, scored 1281 goals and played 1375 games. War in Africa stopped for a short time when he went to play in the Congo. Blond suburban soccer moms driving SUV's have Pelé to thank for bringing soccer to the U.S. in the seventies. He's starred in movies, written songs, served in government, and worked for various humanitarian causes. In short, there are no modern athletes that can really hold a torch to him.

The highlights of his life were chronicled during a time when television sets were just appearing in living rooms throughout the world, so there is a purity to his image that has remained steadfast. One imagines that in this modern age of short attention spans and ferocity of the media, he would be deified and crucified just as quickly. But these images from the 50's through the 70's take us back to a different time and the footage of Pelé at soccer stadiums throughout the world refreshingly illustrates a spontaneity and international love of sport that Coca Cola, McDonalds and countless other companies have bastardized with their incessant publicity, both on the players' uniforms and strategically placed throughout stadiums.

Much of the footage material used in Pelé Forever underwent a restoration process and digital technology was used to recreate the goal that according to Pelé was the most beautiful one of his career. Jorge Ben Jor created the soundtrack to the film, a spry 60's inspired samba that keeps the film pulsating.

The focus of the film, of course, is on soccer. We meet his family and friends, but more time is given to his teammates, opponents and prominent world figures talking about him. In the visual styling of The Kid Stays in the Picture, the documentary quickly glosses over the thornier sides of his personal life, such as his public recognition of his children born from extramarital affairs. One has the feeling that there could have been a different sub-theme had they been interviewed at length...

To be sure, Pelé's life story could easily be told in a DVD box set, รก la Beatles Anthology. Pelé Forever is a worthy start.

  Anji Milanovic

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