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96. Pelé; movie review

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Title : 96. Pelé; movie review
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Cert 12
109 mins
BBFC advice: Strong language

As long as I live, I don't think there will be a football team like the boys from Brazil who won the 1970 World Cup.
They weaved dreamily around opponents, scoring the most wonderful goals.
And the heartbeat of this incredible side was Pelé - playing in his fourth tournament, having twice previously been a winner.
Football fans often debate the greatest player of all time and the likes of Maradona, Ronaldo, Messi and Cruyff are mentioned in the same breath as Pelé.
But it is not just his scoring record which makes him better - he played at a time when referees gave forwards no protection from clogging defenders.
Fifty years on from his last World Cup, it was a shock to see a frail Pelé, walking with the aid of a frame, contributing to Ben Nicholas and David Tryhorn's movie.
But his early grimaces are replaced by smiles as he meets former players from the all-conquering Santos team of the 1950s and 60s.
They propelled the unfashionable club to the world's elite and clearly love to tell stories of that time.
This documentary presents footage of Pelé at his dazzling best with unfathomably fast feet and incredible ball control.
In parallel, it outlines the chequered political history of Brazil in the 1960s and how important football was to the country's dictator.
Pelé received criticism at the time for refusing to make political statements but here he opens up about the pressure he was under.
He emphasises that he enjoyed the adoration of fans but not all of the spotlight which came with being the most beloved person in Brazil and one of the most well-known in the world.
The documentary ends in 1970 which was a bit of a disappointment. I wanted to know something about his time in America and what he has been up to since his retirement from football.
But I presume the documentary's makers thought that fans would want to see, the grace, the speed and the goals.
Regardless, they have managed to create a film which revealed much more about one of the icons of 20th-century sport than I expected.
It is to their great credit, they were able to entice the great man to open up.

Reasons to watch: The story behind the greatest footballer ever
Reasons to avoid: Doesn't go beyond 1970

Laughs: Two
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 8/10

Did you know? 
 Pelé has helped raise millions of pounds for charitable causes including Great Ormond Street and Harlem Street Soccer. 

The final word. Ben Nicholas: "It was also key for us to have Pelé in the room and get him on camera because a lot of docs these days will be just (archival footage). We always felt it would be a strength of the film if we can get him almost giving his last will and testament, and allowing the audience to feel like they get to know him over the film." Esquire


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