‘Pelé’: A decent documentary

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A recent addition to Netflix in the past week is the documentary entitled “Pelé.” This documentary explores the life of the titular soccer player and the geopolitical climate of Brazil of his era. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

A recent addition to Netflix in the past week is the documentary entitled “Pelé.” This documentary explores the life of the titular soccer player and the geopolitical climate of Brazil of his era.  

To give some brief background on Pelé, he is said to be the greatest soccer player of the 20th century, or perhaps of all time (though Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have made that claim debatable). He helped lead the Brazil national team to three World Cups, a feat that has yet to be matched by any modern football player. 

The documentary dives into his World Cup career, while also focusing on Pelé’s effect on Brazilian culture and how the country changed throughout his era of dominant football. 

“Pelé” does many things quite well. For one, it appears to have revitalized some old footage of past soccer games, giving the documentary a more modern feel and look. Any soccer fan will appreciate this remastering, as you can see the greatness up close.  

” “Pelé” does many things quite well. For one, it appears to have revitalized some old footage of past soccer games, giving the documentary a more modern feel and look “

The documentary has many participants, including Pelé himself, many of his teammates and Brazilian journalists and historians. This gives an inside look into the period of history from many perspectives, not shying away from certain controversial topics or even criticizing Pelé for his past actions. 

All that being said, this documentary struggles in a few areas. While it is certainly a good depiction of Pelé’s accomplishments, the documentary never reaches that next level. When I think of fantastic sports-related documentaries, the first that come to mind are 2018’s “Free Solo” and 2017’s “Icarus.” While both of these documentaries do focus on sports, they are character studies at their core, looking at a specific person and trying to understand them.  

“Pelé” doesn’t do that.  

While it looks into Pelé’s accomplishments, it doesn’t dive deep enough into the man behind them. By the end of the movie, you feel as if there was more ground to unearth, more digging to be done to truly understand Pelé as a human being. This severely lessens the power of the documentary. 

Overall, while this film does present Pelé’s athletic accomplishments cinematically, it doesn’t explore his personal life as in-depth as one would like. Thus, this film only earns a moderate recommendation. 

Rating: 3.85/5 

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