Mackinac Media // 2003 // 104 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Ryan (Retired) // August 31st, 2006
"Football is the people's game." -- Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, President of FIFA
Football, a.k.a. soccer, is probably the most basic sport in existence. All you need is a ball, some sort of goal area, and a bunch of people to play it. Invented by the British (as were many current professional sports) and spread around the world by their empire, it's a game that has permeated virtually every corner of the globe. Rich and poor alike can play, and excel in, football.
Standing atop the pyramid of world football is FIFA, the sport's international governing body. FIFA was formed in France in 1904, primarily as an attempt to bring some organization to the ad hoc international matches that were becoming increasingly popular. Today, FIFA controls all major international football through its sponsorship of the World Cup and various regional competitions, and also exerts enormous influence on professional leagues via its big-money international club tournaments. Along the way, they have standardized the rules of the game, and made great efforts to expand its reach into Africa and Asia.
For their 100th anniversary, FIFA prepared this little documentary, which covers -- in four half-hour chunks, entitled "Origins," "Soccer Missionaries," "The Champion's Tale," and "Expansion and Beyond" -- the history of both football and FIFA, and some of the major events in football during that time. The Beautiful Century covers a lot of territory, but does not cover much in depth. We learn the big stuff: how football/soccer was developed and spread, how FIFA was founded, the brief histories of some of the major club teams in the world, the history of the World Cup, and some of the major players in World Cup history (e.g. Pele and Maradona). But nothing in depth. The documentary does take some time out to discuss the rise of women's soccer and the efforts of FIFA to spread the game to the Third World. But that's about it.
You don't have to know an enormous amount about football or its history to enjoy The Beautiful Century -- which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It's a good thing, because it makes the disc accessible to newcomers to the sport. But it's also bad, because it means the logical audience for this, die-hards, won't find anything new or informative here. They'll already know all this information, and will be looking for more depth. So all in all, this is really a disc for people unfamiliar with the sport who are curious about its history.
Picture and sound quality are solid. Since this is a historical documentary, much of the footage used is archival film and video from years past, but for the most part it is clean and damage-free. The disc is presented in a full screen format. Sound is a basic stereo track that works fine for this sort of presentation. No extras are provided.
The Beautiful Century is fine for what it is, which is a very introductory documentary about the history of the sport. It is far from comprehensive, though, and just leaves you wanting to know more about the subjects covered. Which, I suppose, is the point of this disc from FIFA's perspective...so, mission accomplished. I'm not knocking the disc. But if you're looking for a deep history of the sport or the World Cup, The Beautiful Century will not give it to you.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Ryan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Mackinac Media
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official FIFA Site