Maradona by Kusturica (2008 IMDB ) is a documentary by Emir Kusturica, twice winner of the Palme D’or at Cannes, on Diego Maradona. Maradona is a genuinely interesting character. He was a footballer with perhaps only one equal. But he is a
deeply flawed character.
Kusturica is in awe of Maradona, which is understandable. He forgives his great sins, those of cheating with his hand in the goal against England in the 1986 World and of taking cocaine and performance enhancing drugs. Kusturica shows the footage of the second goal against England, which was voted goal of the Century many times. He constructs a cartoon version with Maradona scoring against British and US leaders.
The political aspect of the film is sad. Kusturica states that if Maradona had not become a footballer he would have become a revolutionary. This is right out there. There is much made of Maradona’s meeting with Castro. Maradona’s
politics are half-baked Left Wing Latin American populism. It hasn’t done much good in Latin America and Maradona is not an elquent spokesman for the cause. Maradona’s politics deserve a mention, but the focus on them detracts from
what is interesting about Maradona, his footballing skill, the cult around him and his personal failings.
There is quite a bit on the cult of Maradona which is good. There is a church of Maradona where you can get married. There are a number of Maradona songs and you get to see Maradona sing a few of them. This is quite weird. It’s
strange to watch someone in their own personality cult. We also get to see some of the church of Maradona’s ceremonies complete with strippers.
The biggest ommission from the documentary is on what makes Maradona really interesting, his footballing prowess. Kusturica gives us footage of some of Maradona’s goals, but he doesn’t get other players to talk about his skill or look at why Maradona is heralded more than Baggio, Socrates, Matthaeus or Zidane.
The film also includes far too much jaggly camera. It’s annoying. Get a good image stabiliser. There is also too much of Kusturia. You can see how he couldn’t resist putting a lot of himself in the documentary.
Still, it’s worth a look.