IN a 2004 interview, French footballer Zinedine Zidane was quoted as saying 'Music was important. Football was the easy part,' in reference to his upbringing in Marseille.
Little did he know at the time, music would illuminate his singularity on the pitch thanks to Scottish band Mogwai.
With all eyes on Zidane, the score supported the visual, but never overpowered it.
‘We immediately knew that our music lent itself to visuals and to the ambience of the piece’ was the reaction of Mogwai, having been asked by Zidane, A 21st Century Portrait directors, Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno, to score the 2005 documentary in which Zidane was filmed playing for Real Madrid using 17 synchronised cameras at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.
Performed live for the first time, alongside the film for Manchester International Festival, the performance at Manchester’s Albert Hall provoked intrigue by all in attendance. And a diverse group it was.
From football fans, some of whom could be heard shouting ‘Zidaaaaane’ from the rafters as though they were at the Home end, to those there purely to be entertained and educated the MIF way with new, original work, it was to be 90 minutes like never before.
Mogwai appeared, dim-lit and non-descript beneath the looming plasma screen. As a first-time viewer of the documentary, it was initially difficult to make sense of its simplicity. Ten minutes into the 90 minute sitting and, with the guidance of Mogwai’s perfectly suited ambient style, the fascination of football beyond the actual ball set in.
At times it was easy to forget Mogwai were even in the vicinity.
With all eyes on Zidane, the score supported the visual but never overpowered it. Lifting the film further away from football, the dreamy soundtrack complemented powerful imagery of Zidane’s physical and mental exertions on the pitch.
Timed to perfection, the band knew when to allow the film to speak for itself as Zidane’s every grunt, sniff and foot scuffle resounded around the Albert Hall. Later, as Zidane’s frustration and focus grew, so too did Mogwai’s and there was a moment where the guitarists strummed furiously, forcing the audience to chance a glance away from the screen, momentarily.
The soundtrack, like many a football match was also, at times, uneventful. Just as the film highlights how little a single football player actually touches the ball in 90 minutes and how crucial those moments are, Mogwai too had their defining moments of sheer brilliance.
Ultimately, the band fulfilled the task they were given and their meditative soundtrack couldn’t have been more suited to a perspective documentary such as this.
Through Zidane’s eyes, we see. Through Mogwai, we hear.
Follow Lynda on Twitter @lyndamoyo
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