It was late into the night and I was watching this video essay by Dan Golding titled The Meaning in the Music: Hans Zimmer and Time on YouTube and it had me captivated. In the video, the narrator quotes Michel Chion’s “synchronised sound made cinema an art of time” critique and goes on to argue that GIFs can load slowly or quickly depending upon the speed of the internet. And it doesn’t matter much. But add a sound to the clip and you see the problem.
You see, that is because sound has attributed meaning to the set of images. In a way, it defines it by giving it duration.
At that point, the first thing that ran in my mind was, ‘hang on a second, I’ve seen that before.‘
I saw it for the first time at Jo’burg in South Africa when a certain Andrés Iniesta brought an overweighted Fabregas pass to sublime control close to his body in front of the goal, letting it bounce up the pitch by a metre or so and then connecting his sweet right foot with the infamous Jabulani in a half volley. Maarten Stekelenberg and the 20 other players on the pitch were frozen in time. Not a muscle moved inside Soccer City as everyone held their breaths, the boisterous cacophony and the vuvuzelas had disappeared as millions of eyes were glued to their television sets. You could feel the electricity in that forever moment but you couldn’t quite exactly decipher it, it was a numbing sensation.
A second later, normalcy returned to the world and football as Iniesta wheeled away in celebration, paying his tributes to Dani Jarqué. The entire Spain entourage ran toward him to embrace him as everybody started to realise the grandiose of what had just happened. It was Spain’s greatest second in sporting history as they were a couple of minutes away from winning their first ever FIFA World Cup. It was Iniesta’s moment and more importantly, it was his second.
He had manipulated time, and this definitely wasn’t the first instance.
He had diluted time in a similar manner at Stamford Bridge exactly a year ago, when he swung his right boot like a knife through butter and made the Chelsea fans cover their eyes in horror.
If you have followed Christopher Nolan‘s movies, you might have noticed that he is obsessed with time. Most directors prefer a linear storytelling and a straight timeline.
But Christopher? He loves to play with time, almost bending and jerking it to his will. He employed a forward and reverse storytelling at the same time in Memento, different arrows of time in Inception and Interstellar and three different timelines encapsulating the plot device in Dunkirk.
It reminds me of Andrés Iniesta and how he loves playing with time and being ‘Illusionesta’ as well. He stretches time when an opponent tries to tackle him, eludes him with a croqueta here, a nutmeg there, goes past the third, sees Leo or Luis making a run down the wing, plays an eye of the needle pass and presses the resume button only then. What were mere seconds on the clock, seemed like infinity to the defenders he’s just made a fool of. And it’s all so natural to him, you wouldn’t even notice without a meticulous eye for observation.
Hans Zimmer often uses ticks of clocks, periodic beats and melodies of varying pace in his movie scores, especially when he’s collaborating with Nolan. In Inception, he used the basest and lonesomest notes for the deepest layers of the dream and increasingly lighter ones with every preceding dream layer. Iniesta does the same at different areas of the pitch. He picks up the pass from Pique in deep defense, speeds up the clocks elevating the pace of the game to match that of Bruce Lee’s punches as he beats two players in his mazy run and slows down time in the final third quite like Gregory Alan Isakov does for the audience in his The Empty Northern Hemisphere album.
Andrés helping out the team by altering time doesn’t make it to the headlines, no, neither does it go viral on social media. Hell, it doesn’t even get recorded as a statistic that people so naïvely use to justify footballers. Aaron Levenstein said that statistics are like bikini. “What they reveal is suggestive, what they conceal is vital.”
And Andrés Iniesta is the very embodiment of that idea. That is why using his goal and assist count to sum up his career is as stupid as thinking that the Earth is flat.
In an interview with The Feed, Zimmer, when questioned about the contrast in his work as compared to loud, bombastic catchy tunes of the ’90s pioneered by the great John Williams of course, revealed that he liked keeping the audience in a state of mystery in order to grant them a more immersive experience. “I’m gonna give you a glimpse of something, I’m not even gonna tell you what it is. I’m just gonna sort of invite you in and let you discover it. I’m gonna let you be a part of this world, you know.”
Sounds just like our Don Andrés when he invites the opponent to the ball by showing him a glimpse of it and quickly swerves and feints his body to another direction and making everyone go “whoa!” and “oh my!”, not exactly in a way that Leo does but somewhere along the lines of “wow, it was really simple, what he did. Guess it’s doable if you practice hard and long.”
That’s his genius. To make you question reality and make you a believer at the same time.
Andrés’ autobiography is titled “The Artist” and rightly so. The football pitch is his canvas and the sights of him with a ball at his feet are the strokes of brush, the making of an exquisite masterpiece, the perfect sonnet. I can only imagine how he might feel when he has the ball at his feet. To him, it must feel like the joy of a bike ride by the old country side underneath the shimmering Sun and inhaling the beautiful aroma of the cool breeze as the exotic sea roars against the coast nearby.
And that is how I feel when I watch him quietly pulling strings, making things tick, playing with time and attributing meaning to the game by deciding its time and eventual course of action.
Andrés Iniesta adds causality to the game of football.
He attributes meaning to the game and defines it by giving it duration.