Two young boys, wearing yellow Brazilian soccer jerseys and green shorts, are standing by the side of the road in a small Palestinian village. The smaller boy, his face swallowed by large round glasses, sits on the curb flipping through the pages of a world cup album. The other boy is standing with a portable radio pressed to his ear, listening to the game, his thumb outstretched. It’s the 1990 World Cup, and Romania is playing Argentina.
The boys get in a car that’s decked out in Argentinian paraphernalia. An Argentinian flag sits on the seat behind the boys, and a blown-up picture of one of their players is plastered to the back of the passenger seat. The game is playing on the radio. The ball is rushed up the field… and the radio crackles out. A voice announces that the station has been taken over by the Uprising radio. Long live the Palestinian uprising! he cheers, before the game is brought back on.
Romania scores, and the boys cannot contain themselves. They erupt into cheers. The next scene shows them back on the side of the road as the car peels away.
MARADONA’S LEGS, a short film written and directed by Firas Khoury, follows two young boys as they hunt through their town for Maradonna’s legs, the last missing sticker needed to complete their world cup album and win a free Atari. Shot in a dusty village in the rolling hills of Palestine, the film keeps the beauty of Palestine in center stage throughout. The boys’ vibrant yellow jerseys stand out against a backdrop of beige buildings, and a red VW van pops as it drives through an arid landscape.
Adults only have a few brief and anonymous appearances. As the two main characters try to find the card, they make deals with other children; they have tense conversations about how and where they can get it. The film takes frivolous competition as seriously as any child would, which makes for a story that is just as dramatic as it is silly.
Underlying everything is the Palestinian uprising movement, the First Intifada, as seen briefly but notably when the boys are in the stranger’s car. Throughout the film, TV and radio shows cut out for seconds as pro-Palestine voices break through. As the children hunt for their missing card, a harsher reality is inescapable.
Filled with humor, insight, and heart, MARADONA’S LEGS is a gratifying viewing experience recommended to all—at only 23 minutes, it’s likely that even those averse to foreign films will enjoy it.
Ayoub Abu Hamad
About the Author:
Nell Beck is a rising senior at Oberlin College, where she is pursuing a BA in English. At school, she is co-editor of the literary nonfiction magazine and eats in a dining co-op. Raised in Montclair, New Jersey, she is passionate about books, art, and writing. Looking ahead, she hopes to pursue an arts-related career, travel a lot, and become a better baker.