Pelé: Birth of a Legend (2016)


Biography | Drama | Sport


Jeff Zimbalist | Michael Zimbalist




Kevin de Paula, Leonardo Lima Carvalho, Vincent D'Onofrio, Rodrigo Santoro, Diego Boneta, Colm Meaney, Vivi Devereaux


The chronicle of Pele's (Kevin de Paula, Leonardo Lima Carvalho) meteoric rise from the slums of Sao Paulo to leading Brazil to its first World Cup victory at the age of 17.


Pelé is a football legend, I am a huge football fan so I could not miss this film. For sure reason I wasn't sure what to expect from it, yet it managed to leave me feeling tremendously disappointed by it.

Even though Pelé is the executive producer of it, "Pelé: Birth of a Legend" isn't the tribute such a legend deserves.

Sure the intentions of the Zimbalist brothers are quite noble, I mean, bringing to the big screen a coming-of-age story about Pelé. But the task was quite hard because of the subject and they didn't handled it properly.

The story is what it is, but the film brings it to the screen with no personality whatsoever, and completely forgets that it isn't just a victory for a man, but for all the Brazilian people as well. The film drowns in bland and predictable dialogue - and it did really bother me the fact that the film was in English. I would have prefered it to be in Portuguese with subtitles.

The cinematography is quite beautiful, but there are some scenes - like the young Pelé using fruits to play football because he couldn't afford a ball - looks more like an advertising campaign than sequences from a movie.

Noteworthy is the insistence of the filmmakers on some values such as tenacity in pursuing goals and never giving up, and staying true of oneself and to one's traditions.

In spite of all of its flaws, "Pelé: Birth of a Legend" still manages to be watchable. 


  1. I have never planned seeing this film, and parts of what you have written convince me it is the right decision. I have seen the three 'Goal!' films. The first two are watchable, even the first one might be considered the best. The third, I think, I found on YouTube and it's a total waste of time. So, if you haven't seen them, it wouldn't be such a bad idea doing so, even though they're more Real Madrid related...
    I mentioned 'Goal!' because this trilogy is an excellent example that it is very hard to make a football related film. Even harder when its American made. Although the first one is not that bad, it somehow lacks the true nature of the sports, it somehow feels not genuine. So I expect the same from this 'Pelé' film.
    Maybe there are two main reasons. First, it just seems that Americans don't quite get this sport. They manage to do excellent films about their most popular sports. Second, football seems to be not so easy to be told on the big screen.

    The usage of English is rather normal, after all it's an American film, and the English language is today's lingua franca, so it's just normal they used it to relate to a broader audience, and especially to the American one.

    And my final thoughts are about Pelé. Yes, he'll always be in the history of football, considered as one of the greatest. But, I think, we'll never know how great he really was, because he never came to Europe, where was (and still is) the biggest level of football and the real test.

    1. Thanks for telling me that! I'll make sure to avoid the "Goal" trilogy. Especially now that I know it's Real Madrid related.

  2. Haven't even heard of this before now. Too bad, it's not what it should be. Biopics are tricky to begin with. They're even more so when the subject is as famous as Pele. A third layer of difficulty is added when the subject is involved in the process. Those sorts of movies tend to be fluff pieces on the subject rather than a true examination of him/her. Occasionally it works, as it did with Straight Outta Compton, but even that removed, or glossed over, almost all blemishes from the group's individual members. It sounds like this did pretty much the same thing.

    1. I still haven't seen Straight Outta Compton, but now I wanna see it even more.

  3. As much as he is a legendary players, the man is now a FIFA puppet, there to spout occasional nonsense that will please them.

    Like yourself I am a huge football fan, but it seems there are more worthy films such as Last Goal Wins and Bo66y (about the legendary English CB Bobby Moore)

    1. You're so right about Pele. And how come haven't I heard of Bobby Moore's film? I absolutely have to watch it, especially considering that I'm a Hammer.