BECKHAM. The idol

Few athletes have been as electrifying as David Beckham. Netflix faced the challenging task of not creating a soulless tribute. How did it turn out?

Marcin Konczewski

7 October 2023

BECKHAM The idol

There are several outstanding sports documentary productions that the creators of the finest dramas or thrillers would not be ashamed of. These include The Last Dance, Maradona by Kusturica, or The Class of ’92 about Manchester United. They are filled with passion, drama, and capture the phenomenon while revealing the vulnerability. On the other hand, there are those that contribute very little emotionally, such as Lewandowski – Unknown. What ties them all together in theory is that they all revolve around outstanding individuals and teams. So, what makes some bring tears, evoke trembling and adrenaline, while others only raise a shrug? Well, the answer is simple – there must be truth, passion, and intrigue in it. Fortunately, Netflix’s Beckham is one of the best sports productions I’ve had the opportunity to watch. It doesn’t create a monument; instead, it shows all the highs and lows of the former captain of the England national team.

It’s personal

I have to emphasize this at the beginning – David Beckham had a massive impact on me as a young person; he inspired and electrified me. I wore almost every one of his hairstyles and emulated his way of striking the ball on the field. Well, I played semi-professional football for 16 years, and to this day, I miss the atmosphere of matches and the locker room. So, I was very skeptical about the Beckham mini-series that appeared on Netflix. I was aware that Beckham’s life alone was ready material for a script, but I was afraid it would be an attempt to build a monument, to make Beckham into something more than he was, and to explain his missteps. I received a production that is not afraid to address the most painful aspects of David’s life while also trying to showcase his phenomenon and his struggle with the difficulties I witnessed. From 1998 to 2013, I followed his career with genuine enthusiasm. It all started with the famous kick to Diego Simeone’s leg, which almost destroyed Beckham’s career and life during the World Cup in France. I have no idea why I started rooting for this guy with a concocted, even ridiculed blond hairstyle from that moment. After all, the whole world had turned against him. I remember that when I defended him, my coaches taught me that such behavior as his was foolish, a lack of responsibility for the team. I disagreed with that. What happened to Beckham hurt me. It was cruel. However, the way he dealt with the hatred, turned it into strength, and became the most recognizable footballer in the world gave me an absolute stimulus in life to keep striving forward. I will be grateful to him for that for the rest of my life.

david beckham

Impudent heartthrob

The Netflix film humanizes David Beckham, portraying him as a person with many desires, constantly hungry, and always striving for more, while remaining a good, fairly normal guy. Over the course of four episodes, the documentary takes us through his victories, difficulties, sometimes mistakes, and setbacks, after which this privacy-deprived man, chased by paparazzi, always emerged stronger. It’s not a mere celebratory tribute. The documentary’s creators invited many guests who express their views on the Englishman in various ways, often criticizing him, presenting their perspective, and viewpoints on his character and decisions. This makes it a truly valuable production in terms of its narrative. I especially appreciate those comments that help us understand what was going on in the mind of a man who lived in the spotlight for so many years and was always somewhat shy about it. Archival interviews with his football father, Sir Alex Ferguson, statements from Manchester United teammates – Gary Neville, Roy Keane, Rio Ferdinand, Paul Ince, and Scholes – provide a different perspective on who Becks was for them, how he changed, grew in their eyes, and transcended their understanding of what a footballer is. Beckham wasn’t the best footballer of his time, of course not. He himself speaks highly and respectfully of others. However, he had something extraordinary and unique at the same time – a unique style, charisma, magnetism, and rebelliousness that made people come to the stadium for him as a person. Later, those same people would go home and follow his every move in newspapers, on television, and later on the internet. In the 21st century, only Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi were more phenomenal, but they didn’t go as far beyond football as Becks. He was a pop culture icon, a Spice Girl’s husband, and a Beatle on the field. And all of this was happening at a time when tabloids were absolutely ruthless.

david beckham victoria beckham

Posh we don’t know

Yes, this part may be the most significant and personal in this whole review. Beckham is a tv series that – I hope – will also change the perception of Victoria Adams. Posh in the early 2000s became the bad woman beside the outstanding footballer loved by the world. Blame for failures in Madrid, departure from Manchester United was placed on her shoulders. I myself did not like the former Spice Girl; I had a grudge against her. After these 4 episodes, however, I understood a lot. One moment in the first episode particularly struck me when Beckham brings Victoria down to earth, teases her, and she just takes it in stride. It looks like an unsuccessful scene, but the fragment made it into the final version. Maybe it’s a staged scene, I don’t know. For me, it’s evidence of the distance that hits where it should. The film also features many sincere statements, including about therapy, which show her perspective, the unnoticed, hushed humiliations, sacrifices, and the pressure that she and her husband had to deal with during Beckham’s heyday. And it was overwhelming. Yes, in a way, they asked for it themselves because they were an uncompromising couple, consistently building their pop culture image. However, the moments they went through were extremely painful, and you can see that in their statements. I can’t imagine what they must have gone through in those toughest moments.

david beckham victoria beckham

I won’t hide it; Beckham is a documentary that reminded me of the phenomenon of my idol. Most likely, I’m not entirely objective in evaluating Netflix’s miniseries, but even when I take a deep breath, shake off the layer of emotions it stirred in me, I still see several formal elements that elevate it above average. These are: the approach to the footballer’s character, the absence of fear in showing his weaknesses, excellent narrative direction, tension building, and the proper celebration of key events. This is not a lazy documentary. Oh no! It remains as hungry to be something more as the character it’s about. That’s why I believe that the creators of Beckham did a great job. And it didn’t have to be that way. Just look at Lewandowski…

Marcin Konczewski

Marcin Konczewski

The founder of the Kon (Horse) Movie fanpage, where he transforms into a film animal who gallops with pleasure through the multiverse of superhero productions, science-fiction, fantasy and all kinds of animations. If he had to say something about himself, he would say that Kon is a pop culture lover, a self-proclaimed critic constantly looking for a human in cinema, a fan of non games, literature, dinosaurs and Batman. Professionally, a teacher (by choice), always opposed to the concrete education system, strongly pushing alternative forms of education. He quietly writes fairy tales and fantastic stories for his little son. A Polish philologist by education. He collaborates with several publishing houses and YouTube channels.

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