The Netflix documentary Pelé has all the makings of a prestige film: a man known as the greatest footballer in the world, the only player to have won 3 World Cups, and celebrity in the historical context of a brutal dictatorship. The twist in the story is that you see an aged man at his most physically vulnerable, who cries at remembering all the pressure he withstood to make his fans happy.
If we study the Great Ones of sport, we find there are many contributing factors to their success: motivation, competitiveness, mentors, resilience, discipline, talent, and luck. Writer-Director Gabe Polsky gives us examples of all that and adds one more trait, creativity, that extends across music, art, and other disciplines.
To describe Bill King’s Hotshot in the vernacular of the 1980s, most of the time, this is a hokey soccer movie. But Hotshot is still worth watching, if only for the 20 minutes that Pelé is on-screen.
In their Pelé biopic, Directors Jeffrey and Michael Zimbalist create a loving, lush, and longish ode to the Beautiful Game of Brazil. If you sit back and absorb, there is a lot to enjoy. But it might be the kind of movie that only a soccer fan can love.
It’s sad that many think Victory is the iconic American soccer movie, because this movie is pretty ordinary and has aged poorly. Victory is a World War Two POW movie that pays heavy homage to The Great Escape; the POWs escape while playing against the Nazis.
O Rei Pelé, or Pelé the King, is a good resource, showing Pelé’s life and many goals. As I didn’t become a soccer fan until 1999, I had never seen Pele play except for in the movie Victory.