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Pele: Birth of a Legend Review

Hardly Legendary



Edson Arantes do Nascimento was born in Três Coracões, Minas Gerais, Brazil on October 23, 1940. He eventually came to be known as Pelé, arguably the greatest soccer player in history. He scored 1281 goals in 1363 games, a number far above anyone else. To this day, he is considered Brazil's most brilliant athlete ever, as well as Brazil's most popular son.


Jeff and Michael Zimbalist co-wrote and co-directed "Pele: Birth of a Legend", which debuted at the 2016 Tribeca Film festival, and they do a decent enough job of showing us Pelé from a young age until he becomes a star. The central problem is that most of it is hollow and unfeeling. Oh, there are a few moments where you will care, but not many. Mostly, you will remain uninvolved and be reduced to being a spectator as everything unfolds as expected.





As Pelé's career ascends, the issue surrounding him is that he doesn't play the disciplined style demanded by his coach. He is a wildly creative player whose "ginga" style that harkens back to players on a previous Brazilian national team that fell just short of becoming a world champion. All of Brazil has lived in shame since the devastating loss. Now the Brazilian national team finds itself in the finals once again. Pelé wants to play his ginga style but is forbidden to do so. It's not difficult to see where this is heading.


If you don't know how it turned out, you can look it up. The only truly exciting part of the film is when the filmmakers allow us to view the real Pelé in action through old newsreels. He is breathtaking to watch in action, but five minutes of excitement can't make up for over 90 minutes of a Lifetime Network-worthy presentation. Look for more newsreels instead of wasting your time on something far from legendary.

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