How to approach the myth Michael Jordan on the screen? Six NBA champion rings and as many MVP titles from the finals between 1991 and 1998. An extraordinary character who marked a whole generation of fans and basketball players. Uncompromising champion, sometimes tyrannical. Arrogant and roomy with his opponents, but also towards his teammates. Because “victory comes at a price,” said “Air Jordan,” considered one of the greatest athletes in sport history.
“The Last Dance”, a co-production of ESPN and Netflix, retraces Jordan’s last season with the Chicago Bulls, his sixth and final NBA title (see the trailer below). The action takes place between 1997 and 1998, over a period from October to June, with occasional flashbacks in the past to address in depth certain aspects of the history and the key characters of the Bulls dynasty during the 90s: like Phil Jackson, the coach to whom Jordan had linked his destiny as a player, Scottie Pippen, his right arm and “lieutenant” on the field, or even “the terrible child” Dennis Rodman, king of the rebound.
Trailer of the documentary series “The Last Dance”, available on Netflix since April 20, 2020. (Source: Youtube)
A complex personality
How do you revisit such a rich story in which an incredible collection of ego collides and which doors to choose to tell it in the space of ten episodes of 50 minutes each? The 90’s Bulls were more than a team, a true cultural phenomenon. “The biggest challenge was to find the right timeline to tell everyone’s story, to do justice to each story, and to do it honestly and responsibly without the viewer getting lost,” said the director Jason Hehir in an interview with Sports Illustrated.
“The risk from a cinematographic point of view is not to explore the flaws of the characters, explains Pierre Morath, director of the film” The rules of the game “which retraced the course in play-off of the Geneva hockey team- Servette in the spring of 2005. “Michael Jordan, precisely, has in him this rather complex side which deserves to be dug”.
For Riccardo Signorell, a former professional hockey player (notably promoted to LNA with Geneva in 2002) who has become a filmmaker, the success of such a production hangs by a thread. “It’s hard to find depth in a sports documentary,” he notes. Too often, we stay frozen in the historical aspect: this happened, then that, then this team or this player won this or that title. What I hope to see in this series is how Jordan was able to be fully into the “present moment”, how he celebrated the magic of the game and why in the end he was the best. Athletes like Jordan and Kobe Bryant managed to clear the air around them. The match, the performance, took place now, not tomorrow or the day after. This is what I would like to feel in this documentary. “
106 people interviewed
The series, which was first released in the United States on ESPN on April 19 before being available on Netflix the next day, draws its richness from the images filmed in immersion during the 1997-1998 season and from the interviews. conducted with 106 interlocutors, including Jordan during three interviews carried out between June 2018 and December 2019. One of the central questions of the documentary is the obsession of “MJ” for victory. “When they see this film, people will think I was a bad person,” said the man who considers himself “cursed by his competitive mentality.”
“Michael Jordan has a fairly complex side to it that deserves to be explored” – Pierre Morath, director of the film “The rules of the game”
For Riccardo Signorell, all the interest lies in the way the main character, Michael Jordan, will be “dissected”. “What interests me is what direction the story will take, how the director has” peeled “his film material and what aspects will be highlighted,” said the filmmaker. Pierre Morath identifies a particularly interesting element in the treatment of the subject. “The director was able to work on original archive material, which is quite rare,” he said. There, we come out of the old tapes produced at the time by a team in immersion and which had not been exploited until now. It is always extremely interesting to immerse yourself in the very high level, because there is only where there is such an aesthetic, such tension and such mastery. But paradoxically, the high level is today completely controlled and padlocked. It is therefore less and less interesting to dive into it. With old, new images, however, that changes everything. ”
“The Last Dance” was scheduled for release in June during the NBA Finals. It was brought forward due to the coronavirus crisis, which notably froze the world of sport. The fans, however, always need to escape. “Now is the perfect time to tell such a story,” said director Jason Hehir. It deserves to be told in several parts. It’s a gigantic story, and it would not pay homage to the Bulls or Jordan to want to transcribe it in 75 or 90 minutes. ” Ten episodes, ten hours of thrills until May 18: a gift from heaven for the whole “Jordan generation”, 17 years almost to the day after the icon’s last game.
They have seen, known or discovered the star and say what she means to them
George Eddy, TV commentator on Canal plus: “Jordan, it was an airy style, elegance, grace, but also ferocity in his approach to competition. Besides, he was a handsome, charismatic guy, gifted in communication. He brought everything together to become an icon. Six NBA titles, six MVP titles from the finals, it’s a unique record. Jordan is also a memory of the Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. He is at the origin of the internationalization of the NBA, especially in France where his influence was enormous in the 90s. “
Arnaud Cotture, basketball player of the Geneva Lions: “My uncle, who was a basketball player, brought me a basketball hoop in the image of Michael Jordan. This is my first memory of this player. I remember his highlights or his appearances on video games. Because of my age (24), I followed the generation that came just after Jordan: the Manu Ginobilli and Tim Duncan at the San Antonio Spurs. They were my gods, my idols! I am delighted to see this documentary. It’s part of the basketball culture, you can take inspiration from it. “
Yann mayor, manager of “Basket House” in Geneva: “Jordan has marked my entire generation, that of 1989 and older. At the time, there was no YouTube. We had his matches on videotape. Each image of Jordan was rare, so important. Many people started playing basketball thanks to him. Young people come to the store to buy his retro shoes, but many believe that Jordan is really just a brand of sneakers! This documentary will allow the youngest to discover who really was this extraordinary player. ” G.P.
Created: 04.22.2020, 12:13 p.m.