ONE… and I’m not talking about the Metallica song…
Well, if you’re from my country you know there’s been a lot of talk about ‘ONE: Story of a Goal’ (the translations I’ve found online are different, but I find mine better, since I came up with it), this documentary about the salvadoran socder team that went to spain on 1982, and lost 10 to 1 against Hungary.
It would seem that when ONE hit the theaters, it would cure AIDS, eliminate delinquency, and it’s sheer awesomeness would bring Jesus’ second coming, and The Rapture. What I mean is, it has pretty much been one of the most hyped (if not the most hyped) salvadoran movies of all times, so expectations were very high.
You’d need to know that this country is basically overpopulated with soccer fanboys, so IMO that’s one of the reasons behind all the hype. People here will hail everything that has anything to do witl soccer. However, I am not a soccer enthusiast, so my interest on the documentary was about filmmaking itself.
The movie has 3 parts, the pre-worldcup and background, the whole ’event’ (meaning when the game against Hungary took place), and the homecoming and aftermath. The first part felt extremely slow at times. For example, you’d get 3 or 4 lines from a couple of the interviewees, and then a bunch of photographs, newspaper scans, and whatnot, with cheers on the background. At first it was cool, but then it feels like it’s just dragging its own weight, and I literally hoped the rest of the documentary wasn’t this slow.
And indeed it wasn’t. After this slow-paced introduction the whole thing gets its momentum. I won’t share exact details since you should watch the movie yourself (and I don’t want to spoil anything), but I have to say this is where it starts to become watchable (at least to me).
The thing with documentaries is that the ones talking are real people, not fictional characters involved in fictional stories, so it’s a lot easier for them to connect with the audience, and they did – as soon as the second part starts, that is – and this makes this feel like a different movie from what you saw during the first 15 to 20 minutes.
The aftermath keeps the same fast-paced storytelling. I do think some of the things discussed there would fit on the previous part, though, as the interviewees not only come back to them briefly but discuss them in detail so long you’re jumping from the end to the middle of the story a lot. For example they mention their homecoming, then they somehow start talking about the goal keeper, and go back for 5 minutes or so talking about how the goal keeper performed during the game (something they could have mentioned while actually talking about the game on the second part).
If I am not mistaken, the opening and closing voice-over was recorded by Gerardo Muyshondt, one of the directors, and that’s one of the things that I didn’t quite like. Gerardo may be good at what he does (publicist), but there are a lot of professional voice-talents available in El Salvador who would have done a better job, so the reason as to why he’d record the voice-over himself instead of hiring a pro is beyond me.
Some may argue this is not such a big deal as those voice-overs consist on like 2 lines each. However, even the smallest things should be handled professionally (the Cloverfield monster is out of focus almost all the time, unless it’s seen from very far, but that didn’t prevent them from adding insane amounts of detail to it).
Another thing was the use of archival footage. This is a documentary about something that happened nearly 30 years ago, so they obviously had to use archival footage. Unfortunately, some of it (specially that from the begining of the infamous game) was a little damaged so the final cut shows all those imperfections (and I’m not talking about ‘dust and scratches’ like those you add in After Effects, but rather partial distortion of the image for one or two frames, then good quality footage, then one more distorted frame, more good quality, another distorted frame). This should have been addressed in POST (the infamous ‘fix it in POST’ thing, but this time it had to be done). Again, some may think this is a small thing but it marks the difference between a job done and a job well done.
I mean, even Hitler footage found on Youtube shows better quality than some of the archival footage used on the documentary.
There was also this shot near the end when one of the players was saying something along the lines “it’s because of that goal that we’re here right now” making reference to the whole documentary, and then they cut to a behind the scenes where you see the entire crew and the director, completely taking you out of the ‘movie experience.’
They say that when you hear someone’s version of the story, you have half of the actual story. Here we could hear what the players had to say, but they didn’t interview the powers that be (team managers and such), and I think that was needed as sometimes the players would complain about them, and it would have been a nice touch to have the powers that be defend their position. After all, the movie is only 70 minutes long, so there was more than enough time to cover that (as well as other things that may have been left out).
So, did it cure AIDS, eliminate delinquency and the whole shebang? Not at all.
Is it the best documentary ever made, as some put it? Most definitely not.
Is it any good and worth watching? Most definitely yes.
Would I recommend it to others? Definitely.
Well, that’s pretty much all I have to say. I am not a soccer fan, but it made a believer out of me. Now go watch the documentary while you still can.