Directed by: Anthony Mandler
Duration: 90 mins
Genre: Documentary, Action, Sports
Advisories: Adult Language, Adult Content, Brief Nudity
This documentary chronicles David Beckham and his friends' unforgettable journey deep into the heart of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Travelling by motorbike and boat, and guided by locals, he visits far-flung communities and tribes that live in this remote landscape.
David Beckham: Into the Unknown, BBC One,
Review: 'Beckham laid bare'
Former England captain David Beckham's effortless charm and a childlike sense of wonder filled Into the Unknown with lovely, unaffected moments, says Michael Hogan.
Goldenballs (or should it now be Oldenballs?) retired from football last May after a glorious career. However, he still found a way to make it to Brazil in World Cup year by filming David Beckham into the Unknown (BBC One), a feature-length documentary following the photogenic ex-footballer on an Amazon journey, travelling through the rainforest on a motorbike to “find himself”.
The film started with sweet scenes chez Beckham. He gave son Brooklyn, 15, a pep talk about being man of the house while he was away. Romeo, 12, was worried his father would get eaten by a hungry hippo. Wife Victoria, aka Posh Spice, had shallower concerns: “What about your hair in the humidity?”
Beckham was accompanied by three buddies, including his childhood friend Dave Gardner. Cue scenes of airbrushed male bonding as they supped Guinness and laughed in slo-mo, all set to a vintage soundtrack. So far, so lifestyle ad. But once the trip got underway, this film became a lot more likeable. Beckham played beach football in favelas, slept in hammocks, got spooked by snakes, went out with fishermen and cooked his catch over a campfire.
Having been a pampered star for 22 years, he clearly craved freedom from managerial control. He lamented not having a day off for months on end, only ever seeing stadia and hotels. The world’s smallest violin might have been playing in many viewers’ minds but his post-retirement relief was palpable. The only time he lost his temper was when a Health & Safety jobsworth tried to stop him climbing a rickety lookout tower. Becks hates being bossed about. Except by his wife.
Beckham gets grief for being a bit dim and he wasn’t the most eloquent guide. Everything was “amazing”, “incredible” or “a long way from home”. He thought a firefly was his phone lighting up. What he lacked in IQ, though, he made up for in immense likeability, effortless charm and a childlike sense of wonder.
Even after a soap-free week in the wild, he was annoyingly easy on the eye. Beckham-fanciers found much to ogle here: our hero in leathers and monsoon-soaked T-shirts, his ruggedly mud-flecked face and semi-clad video diary entries. His personality was stripped bare, too. He described missing sport as “an itch”. He revealed that his gas fitter father didn’t congratulate him on his illustrious career until he’d won his 100th England cap. He explained the rules of football to a tribesman, then laughed that the last person he’d done this with was Victoria.
As he talked about his children, he absent-mindedly touched his plentiful tattoos which incorporate their names. Youngsters in the Yanomami tribe later exclaimed “He’s painted!” and tried to rub the tattoos off. This film might have been a shameless PR exercise but it was also full of such lovely, unaffected moments.
By Michael Hogan (06/09/2014)