From one populist hero to another; today I at long last watched Kusturica’s biopic of arguably the world’s greatest ever footballer, Diego Maradona (with apologies and thanks to E for the loan!). Kusturica clearly idolized Maradona but his somewhat self-indulgent documentary is far from being a hagiography. To understand Maradona’s modest origins is to understand why he is so venerated by the Argentine and Neapolitan working classes and also, I suspect, explains his friendships with Castro and Chavez. One of the most touching moments in the film is when Maradona goes back, for the first time in fifteen years, to the tiny south Buenos Aires shantytown house where he grew up. In the voiceover commentary Kusturica theorises that Maradona doesn’t like being reminded of the grim reality for many of his impoverished compatriots. But the images come to life when Maradona’s eyes light up as he shows the tiny courtyard where he played football ‘day and night’ (clearly where he developed the skill to play in small spaces while tightly marked) and the wall against which he endlessly headed the ball.  The light fades a little as he remembers his exhausted father, a porter, encouraging his children to walk on his back as a sort of primitive massage…


  1. Hugo Kijne

    Excuse me, possibly the world’s greatest player ever? Have you heard of Pele and a Dutchman called Johan Cruyff?

  2. Jeff

    yes, Hugo, we have all heard about the two mere mortals

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