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The five-minute opening montage of “Diego Maradona” recounts a dizzying history of the Argentine soccer player’s dramatic rise, and the story’s just getting started. As Barcelona’s breakout talent in the early ‘80s, Maradona was seen as a natural successor to Pelé’s stature as the greatest player in history, with ethos to boot: “I’m more interest in glory than money,” he says in one passing interview, as the prologue careens through his exuberant hard-partying lifestyle, local backlash, and a recovery from injury — until at long last he’s sold to less glamorous Napoli in 1984. It’s a dramatic shift, but only a starting point for this breathless and gripping saga of a soccer legend’s fall from grace.
While Maradona’s controversial “Hand of God” triumph in the 1986 World Cup has already been captured in an ESPN “30 for 30” installment, director Asif Kapadia folds that major chapter into a much wider tapestry. You couldn’t ask for a better match between filmmaker and subject, as the Oscar-winning director of “Senna” and “Amy” has already proven his bonafides when it comes to capturing ill-fated pop culture figures in intimate terms. As with “Amy,” the decade-spanning “Diego Maradona” eschews talking heads for a pure archival narrative, blending media coverage with reams of home video material to transform Maradona’s story into a grand opus. Aided by revealing voiceover narration from its subjects, the grainy ‘80s videos become a remarkable portal to the past.
Kapadia - Soccer - Buffs - Moments - Maradona
Kapadia realizes that while soccer buffs may know about the key moments in Maradona’s career — his World Cup victory, his elevation to sainthood in Naples, and an eventual drug-fueled collapse — the dramatic arc wouldn’t work if the final chapter were taken for granted. Instead, the movie follows Maradona from his bumpy start in Naples through his second wave of confidence as if...
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