Basketball as culture – Political Animal

The documentary series The last Dance (United States, 2020) by director Jason Hehir goes beyond telling the story of the success of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls basketball team and its undisputed star Michael Jordan.

It places the story in a multidimensional context in which it delves into the organization of the team, the dynamics that take place inside, the relationships between the players and between them and the coach.

It addresses the behavior of the fans, the identification with “their” team, the influence that the players – in particular, Jordan – have on the population. They all want to be like them, like him.

The presence of the team and its stars worldwide that become a benchmark to follow. They arouse admiration. Through deeds, they become ambassadors of the United States’ way of life to the world.

The documentary focuses on the 1997-1998 season. Not only the games but also the different activities of the team, the managers, the coach, and also the players were filmed from it.

The structure of the series has two main lines: one accounts for the 1997-1998 season that ends in the finals when the Chicago Bulls win their sixth consecutive championship.

And the other begins with Jordan in school and college, runs through his career on the team, the time he decides to dabble in baseball as well, and ends when he wins the championship last season as a player.

The director interviewed 90 people, related to Jordan, from his family, from the specialized press, the coach, his rivals and his teammates who made history in world basketball. Interviews include Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

In the documentary, he realizes the glorious moments of the Chicago Bull and Jordan, but also the difficult times in the life of the coach, the players, and the tensions and rivalries in the team.

The center is Jordan, who appears as an outstanding athlete and a charismatic, competitive person, demanding to the point of being tyrannical, arrogant, and also a character committed to his family and the community.

It is a very well constructed documentary that uses interviews and unpublished material filmed in the 1997-1998 season. That previous work is fundamental for the narrative. There are very good scenes. They show reality. It is not acted upon. It is a great series that also interests those who know nothing about basketball.

El ultimo baile

The last Dance

Original title: The last dance

Production: United States, 2020

Director: Jason Hehir

Script: Jason Hehir

Photography: Michael Winik, Peter Winik, Thomas McCallum, Vincent Guglielmina

Music: Tom Caffey

Performance: The team players


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