The World Cup is unquestionably the greatest sporting event in the world. No other event, sporting or otherwise, pulls nations together like the World Cup does. Once every four years, the whole of the world (save for the majority of the United States) takes a month off to focus their eyes on the efforts of a group of young men to put a white ball into a white net. This film is the story of the 1996 edition of the famed tournament.
This film does a great job of capturing the story of the tournament, while not …etting bogged down in the details that could drag a film like this one to a standstill. The entire tournament is discussed, but not every game is shown. In fact, the group of 16 is skipped all together. While this does not make for a complete document of the tournament, it certainly helps to keep the film on task. The first half of the film showcases the road to the final, and the second half focuses on the semi-finals and the final match itself. Impressively, the film does not shy away from touchy subjects, as it discusses referee controversies and “the head-butt” openly. Much of the film showcases field-level images of the gameplay supported only by crowd noise, which brings the beautiful game to life in a very real way. This is a compelling and entertaining film even for those that are casual fans of international sport.
The audio track is presented in a standard stereo format, narrated by actor Pierce Brosnan. Brosnan does fine work here, and can be most commended for what he does not say, instead of what he does. Long periods without commentary really help viewers to get caught up in the chants and the feel of seeing a game of this magnitude live in the stadium. International viewers will also be glad to know that the dialog is also available in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Thai, with additional subtitles in Chinese and Korean.
The video footage used here is very impressive. As this is the biggest sporting event in the word, each game is also covered by a multitude of cameras . FIFA, of course, has access to all this footage, which gives the federation an unbelievably deep archive of film to be able to draw footage from. The result is a film that is masterfully edited and presented in widescreen, how all sport DVDs should be presented. Many of the shots used are detailed close-ups that were not seen by most viewers during the tournament’s original live broadcast. It’s like watching a live sporting event, edited in advance. The perfect shot has been chosen for every instance. This is what sport DVDs are supposed to look like.
Extras on this disc are limited to a set of interviews from footballers Fabio Cannavaro, Hidetoshi Nakata, Jens Lehmann, Michael Ballack, Dider Drogba and Referee Horacio Elizondo. Though much of this footage is really not that interesting, I certainly respect the efforts made to include some value added content on the disc.
I think there is a real market out there for sport documentaries such as this one. The problem is, such discs need a better and more focused marketing push behind them. This is a great disc that really gives the viewer the sense of what it was like to be at the tournament this past summer. Sure, I would have loved to have seen some more extras included, but the main event is done extremely well. World soccer fans will most definitely not be disappointed if they decide to pick this disc up.
Special Features List