A Hero – A villain: The Two Maradonas
The world loves Maradona. His name means more than just football, it meant success, failure, deception, and rise again, the two sides of a coin. Such genuine grief was displayed at the death twitter was in a frenzy as the world woke up to the sad news on November 25, of Diego Maradona. He represented two sides of success, Maradona the cheat and Maradona the greatest footballer ever; or Maradona, the cocaine-sniffing, whore-mongering, Mafia plaything and Maradona, the working-class hero.
This was a man at war with himself and unable to be anything but himself, to always be true to the defiance that seemed so intrinsically to his character. It’s why the “hand of God” goal was of a piece with his wondrous second goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal rather than a symbol of the dark deception of which he was capable of. Both goals were characteristic of his mischief, lively nature.
We celebrated Maradona when his contempt for authority was confined to the pitch but vilified him for refusing to follow the rules of polite society. What a contrast we were to his life! A hero and a villain in one person. He was a rough figure on and off the field, beloved by those with no power because they could always count on him to embarrass those who did.
The films in this list are a reminder of his irrepressible personality.
This documentary available on YouTube by Asif Kapadia, released last year starts in 1984, when the unfashionable southern Italian club had just signed Diego Maradona, the most famous player in the world. In the movie, his career needed rebuilding after the disappointments of the 1982 World Cup and his time at Barcelona blighted by the injuries caused by wild and incessant fouling. Then In Naples, the film shows, Maradona found redemption, glory and excess. Who could cope with such adulation?
Maradona in Mexico
This is a Netflix documentary series that captures how Maradona, long after his glory days were over, after he had become a husk of himself, reduced by his vices, by failure on the field and in life, to managing a small-time team in the unheralded Mexican second division, remained compelling, charismatic and so easy to love.
This movie captures the story of Maradona in the eyes of the Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica, a two-time Palm d’Or winner at Cannes. Kusturica journeys the life of Maradona but with a bloated ego where he works to capture the latter’s appeal through the crowds at the stadia’s, the audience in the movies and his life in general.
This recap of the extraordinary 1986 World Cup in Mexico shows Maradona at the summit of his immense powers. In a World Cup replete with superb footballers, as the title suggests, Maradona stood out. He turned a good, if not outstanding, Argentina side into world champions through force of personality alone.
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