5) Firenze – Zeffirelli

So, we’ve got from A (Antonioni) to Z (Zeffirelli) in 12 REGISTI PER 12 CITTA’ but we still have seven little films to look at. Franco Z isn’t my favourite Italian director by a long chalk, but his episode is admirable — which is surprising to me because I hate football and his episode is all about the football.

Previous entries have either completely ignored (Antonioni, Bertolucci) the upcoming sporting event (the 1990 FIFA World Cup, apparently) or shoehorned a quick name-check in at the end (Lizzani). Obviously I prefer the first approach (take football money and make something elegant that has nothing to do with football) and obviously the second approach is inelegant, but Zeffirelli’s film is fairly elegant and has an approach that uses the sport to showcase the beauty of his chosen (or assigned) city and gives you some history without ramming facts down your throat like a tour guide, as Lizzani had done.

Basically, Zeffirelli shows people playing football in different locations and different historical periods. His film is attractively photographed by Daniele Nannuzzi (YOUNG TOSCANINI) and is scored by Ennio Morricone. It manages to look much more expensive than the earlier instalments — one wonders if FZ managed to squeeze more loot from his backers or if he was just really good at getting the money onscreen. He’d certainly had practice at that.

All he needed to make this a perfect little gem was a series of match-cuts so that the football flies from one game to another, travelling through time and linking all the scenes. This he somehow fails to do, perhaps because the games are real and though he’s got a lot of nice coverage he hasn’t got the precise material for beautiful matches. There are a few rough stabs at creating matches, creating a false cinematic geography and history, but it’s not quite as achieved as it ought to be. But it certainly looks nice and sounds nice and you get the impression that the filmmaker actually likes the beautiful game, or anyway the boys who play it. Not that his enjoyment is impure — I guess for anyone who appreciates sport, delighting in healthy bodies doing impressive athletic things is an essential element, as with ballet. Watching football through a gay filmmaker’s eyes gives me a slightly increased appreciation of it as a festivity (we’re not keeping score here) rather than as a competition. Which is more than I expected anyone to be able to do.

3 Responses to “5) Firenze – Zeffirelli”

  1. architekturadapter Says:

    Very good idea to take the game out of the stadium and to bring it into the city ! Nice interplay between the statues (espacially Michelangelo’s David) and the players !

  2. Reminds me of a sentence in a Ramsay Campbell horror story, when kids are kicking a football against the wall of a church: “Jesus held his hands out for a catch.”

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