Björn Borg won the French Open in 1981. It was his 11th and final win at a Grand Slam tournament – and the sixth time he has won this particular event. An ordinary filmmaker producing a documentary on the Open that year would likely structure his narrative around the untamed, sober Swedish player’s road to glory there.
But American-born photographer and filmmaker William Klein, who spent most of his career working in or in France, is no ordinary filmmaker or photographer. and that was The first director invited by the event To capture the French Open for a feature film. He and his crew took a fly-on-the-wall approach that, among other things, turned what professional tennis looked like before corporatization into a completely shiny object. The extraordinary 1982 film is getting its US debut this week.
In the backstage areas of Roland Garros in Paris, tennis hardly seems like a glamorous profession. There’s a lot of waiting around, face-to-face physical therapy, mandatory meet and greets, and more. On-court rivals Chris Evert and Virginia Ruzzisi unite in a recreation of Illy Nastase’s Joker. Future French champion Yannick Noah struggles with an ankle sprain. There is neither description nor much in the way of a formal interview. One of the most difficult scenes focuses on Paul Cohen, coach of player Harold Solomon, as he analyzes the damage of his relegation in real time. Arthur Ashe and Patrice Hegellauer are seen and heard watching Noah play Guillermo Vilas.
The fatigues of various showers are faithfully recorded. Klein & Company also catches John McEnroe complaining about playing in wet weather and splurging on the umpire for good measure. Hana MandilkovaThe close-up entertainment of the win in the women’s singles is also memorable. Klein weaves all of these moments into a story that anyone can wonderfully tell on earth.
not evaluated. In English and French with subtitles. Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes. Watch through virtual cinemas.