Constructed from over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage, this documentary centers on the career of celebrated football player Diego Armando Maradona, who played for S.S.C. Napoli in the 1980s.
Asif Kapadia is a fine documentarian and a fine filmmaker and his first two films, tackling the tragic figures of Ayrton Senna and Amy Winehouse, were two of the best documentaries of recent years. The success of those films was in large part down to the way Kapadia managed to make films that transcended the story of their subjects lives to an extent, particularly in ‘Senna’ which takes on a greater meaning in showing the impact he had on his sport and the people of Brazil. In his third film, Kapadia turns his attention to arguably the greatest footballer of all time in Diego Maradona, the mercurial Argentine who was in equal parts loved and hated, and who found a home in the intensely passionate cauldron of Naples in Italy.
This is where Kapadia focuses most of his time and it makes sense from a filmmaking perspective as the core story and legend of Maradona the genius and Maradona the troublemaker was formed over his 7 year spell at Napoli. Kapadia covers both the professional achievements and the off-field troubles, neatly bringing both together and showing how one aspect fuelled the other, as well as covering many of the iconic (or infamous if you’re English!) moments in his career. Similar to his previous films, much of the film is crafted from a variety of footage, with voiceovers from journalists, key players and Maradona himself providing context to the action. The passion of the people of Naples also comes to the fore and Kapadia really showcases the sheer adrenaline rush it must have been playing in front of such passionate crowds who lived and breathed for their local team.
It’s hard to avoid comparisons with ‘Senna’ given both films covered iconic sports stars from South America, and ‘Diego Maradona’ doesn’t quite achieve the same heights as that film, which is no criticism given ‘Senna’ is one of the best documentaries ever made. What ‘Diego Maradona’ does achieve is to provide insight into a genius and to attempt to explain the events and experiences in his life that led him to become the person and player than he was, and it’s a gripping, fascinating watch.
Directed By: Asif Kapadia
Starring: Diego Maradona