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Edson Arantes De Nascimento is not just a name, but a celebration the world of football cherishes on. It brought a new style to the sport with everyone going gaga about it. In simple words, this name popularly called Pele is a phenomenon. Pele: Birth of a Legend tracks the trajectory of the legend of football in this biopic.
The movie opens with Pele entering a stadium in 1958 World Cup and then dates back to 1950 when Brazil lost badly in the WC final. A young Pele tells his father that one day he will get the cup for his country.
Then the film rides on the cliches of games with underdogs outperforming the local favorites, a father losing his career, a mother caring for children, poverty, racism, condemnation of native style of playing, a broken knee before the final day, and loads of staples to ooze out the drama.
The movie progresses in a linear way and offers few strings of excitement but as the yore turns more predictable, you lose the emotional connect. There are moments of joy when the little Pele practices Ginga style under the mango tree with the help of his father and these gets established in flash cuts when the plays the actual game.
The historical background of the Ginga style that is common among the people of African origin is also shown well. And that was projected as the main reason for the dismal performance of Brazil in 1950. So the coach in the film always tries to imbibe the European technique into his team members but when Pele flashes magic on field, the former succumbs to the native rules of play.
A R Rahman weaves the musical fabric with many variations. He breathes life into every frame. Though the outcome of the film is expected, his music takes an unexpected turn in every scene. It complements and punctuates the layers of drama and emotion, and leaves you with heightened spirits.
Pele: Birth of a Legend could have been much better if the director duo Jeff and Michael Zimbalist ventured beyond the ordinary. There are moments of glory replete with highs and lows as one man stands tall for the nation's pride. Pele who produced the film also flashes in a cameo. All in all, the linear and simplistic treatment coupled with weak performances pull the film down from being an epic or achieving the cult status of City of God.