Slender but still magnetic, Pelé enters the frame for the first time using a walker. Such a raw image instantly cuts off any illusion that the glory days have not passed for the once keen athlete. At 80, he expresses himself in small, increasingly emotional beats. Its presence everywhere gives the documentary a frame of reference that forms the basis of the archive images of its greatness. Sometimes we see Pelé looking at his young self; he is elated or remembers the pain.
Still, investigators are not pushing him to elaborate on some of the most critical career decisions he has made at the height of his fame, namely not to speak out against the horrors of the military regime in his home country. Like many countries across the Americas, Brazilian democracy collapsed in a U.S.-backed coup in 1964. Violent repression and censorship became the norm, resulting in the death and torture of civilians . Through it all, nothing has changed for Pelé who even met dictator Emílio Garrastazu Médici and never spoke out. This is generally undisputed.
Of the many subjects filmed in the film, his former teammate Paulo Cézar Lima (or Caju) is the only one to discuss Pelé’s political neutrality in relation to race. Caju describes him as a submissive black man who couldn’t say no or take a stand knowing that his words could make a difference to millions of people.
In a country like Brazil where racism is still pervasive, as is the case throughout Latin America, it is facetious to make a film about a Black Latino icon and not touch the racial background of their success, or to symbolism in a racist country which nonetheless supported him as a football messiah. If his position represented progress for the black population of Brazil, there is little mention of it.
With football and the blinding euphoria of victory on the world stage providing an escape for the population, Pelé justifies his inaction, saying his role as a miracle worker on the pitch was more valuable in the long term than he was. could have said. Whether the facts are honest or not, the documentary reaches its most regrettable point when it compares Pelé’s choices to those of Muhammad Ali, who risked his professional prospects to expose the Vietnam War.
One subject goes so far as to assert that if Pelé risked torture if he took a stand, Ali did not put himself in danger. The statement comes as an ignorant contempt for the struggle of blacks in the United States, especially during the era of the Civil Rights Movement.