Daily Recco, November 26: From Diego to Maradona, a legend's journey
Asif Kapadia succeeds in painting a pretty well-rounded picture of Diego Maradona in the documentary, without falling prey to the folly of looking at the man purely in terms of his career in football.
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Diego Maradona was a polarising footballer. Was he the greatest? Was he not? That argument has lasted decades after the Argentine stopped playing football, and is likely to continue for decades after he is put into the ground. He may not have scored the highest number of goals or notched the most assists, but Maradona will continue to fascinate generations because of a simple reason – his story was most human in the most epic way possible.
That epic human story, a contradiction in terms as it may be, is the true core of the documentary — Diego Maradona (2019) — directed by Academy Award winner Asif Kapadia. The documentary paints the picture of the person that Diego Maradona was and what he went through, instead of singing paeans about his footballing statistics. No wonder then that the documentary was critically acclaimed, and nominated for the Best Documentary at BAFTA Awards 2020.
The documentary relies on clearly differentiating between ‘Diego’, the human who lived his life, and ‘Maradona’, the footballing legend who struggled with controversies on and off the field. That makes for a riveting narrative, considering you get two stories in one documentary. One, the story of Diego, living through the highs and lows that define the human condition, and another, the epic story of a demigod named Maradona, with his stratospheric rises and devastating crashes.
Asif Kapadia succeeds in painting a pretty well-rounded picture of the mercurial man, without falling prey to the folly of looking at Diego Maradona purely in terms of his career in football. He was a living, breathing human too, and that is the point of trying to tell the story of an icon like Diego Maradona.
And icon he was indeed, for his story of rise from the slums outside Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, to the hallowed halls of fame of global football. Living two lives, one of ‘Diego’ and the other of ‘Maradona’. “When you are on the pitch, life goes away. Problems go away. Everything goes away,” the legend himself says in the documentary.
Another reason the documentary holds attention is the fact that there is no voiceover where a narrator tells the story. Diego’s story is told in parts in his own voice, from interviews he has given over the years, and in the voice of those who knew and worked with him. This facet succeeds in bringing out the emotions involved, rather than remaining a sterile recollection of an individual’s exploits.
Diego Maradona is a great watch on the day we mourn one of the most charismatic footballers to ever take to the pitch. You can watch the documentary on HBO.