Pelé: Birth of a Legend (2016) Review


In the build up to the 1958 World Cup we see Pele’s meteoric rise from the slums of Sao Paulo leading to the playing for Brazil’s national team and taking part in his first tournament at the tender age of 17.


I found this film to be totally engaging and interesting from the very first moment as we see how Pele grew into the legend that we are all well aware of to this day. Brazil did not have a good time at the previous World Cup’s and in 1958 it was held in Sweden, due to injuries Pele ended up playing and was targeted because of his size. It was a rather emotional journey as he battled an injury which in all honesty could have ended his career before it even began.

I love a sports film that can capture the passion for the sport in this case football (soccer for you American readers). It manages to demonstrate the hard work and determination that must be put in order to represent your country at a World Cup. The difference in time and how people reacted to others that were visually different is also something the film addresses showing how times have changed with the reactions the different countries had to one another.

Obviously this is the perfect time to watch a film about the World Cup as the current competition is happening, which is how I came across this film thanks to Sky Cinema having a sport section in On Demand. So if you are in the UK and love a good sport film then I think you should go and watch this right now!

I felt Kevin de Paula was perfect as Pele and very engaging putting in such a powerful performance. Managing to capture the many emotions both on and off the field. On the field trying to fit in with the team and do as his manager has asked. Off the field trying to keep in touch with his parents and coping with the psychological side of playing.

It also helps to show that while a legend was born he would have been nothing without his teammates, I liked that aspect of how he was helped along the way by those and the coaching and medical teams. Although how much of it is totally true to what happened in 1958 I guess would have to be looked into. I didn’t want to spoil this review by double and triple checking the facts as wanted to look at it as the film we are presented with.

Overall a very nice and engaging film that is certainly feel good when it comes to the sport genre, especially considering football films that are actually good quality are rather difficult to find. This one is one of the better ones that I have seen.

3 thoughts on “Pelé: Birth of a Legend (2016) Review

  1. I saw this film and I didn’t like it. I thought it played into too many tropes of the bio-pic while my dad who is a soccer fan and had seen Pele played mentioned some of the inaccuracies in the film and he was right. The stuff about why Brazil lost to Uruguay in 1954 is total bullshit.


    • Do you mean in 1950?

      They played Hungary in the 1954 World Cup quarter final and got beat 4-2.

      I’m a huge football fan and work in football and I thought this capture so much passion for the game. Something they seem to struggle to do on the big screen.


      • Oh, you’re right. I sometimes get the dates mixed up. I had a lot of issues with that film but my father who played futbol really had issues with that film and flat-out HATED it. I usually don’t take my father’s word on anything but he was right about this film. I hate to know what he will think of United Passions about the formation of FIFA.


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