Watch “The Secret Tournament” & “The Rematch,” Terry Gilliam’s Star-Studded Soccer Ads for Nike

We’ve nev­er known footwear giant Nike to spare the adver­tis­ing dol­lars, just as we’ve nev­er known film­mak­er Ter­ry Gilliam to com­pro­mise his vision. Only nat­ur­al, then, that the two would cross cre­ative and finan­cial paths. Shot in late 2001 and ear­ly 2002, the 12 Mon­keys direc­tor’s pair of Nike spots, meant to coin­cide with the 2002 World Cup, brought togeth­er some of the era’s finest foot­ballers for a char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly grim, dystopi­an, but visu­al­ly rich and smirk­ing­ly humor­ous tour­na­ment to end all tour­na­ments.  “Hid­den from the world,” announces Nike’s orig­i­nal press release about the first com­mer­cial, “24 elite play­ers hold a secret tour­na­ment, with eight teams, and only one rule… ‘First goal wins!’ ”

“Con­trol­ling the action is Eric Can­tona,” the text con­tin­ues, “who over­sees every three-on-three match noir that takes place in a huge con­tain­er ship docked in an unknown har­bor. With Mon­sieur Can­tona at the helm, you can be assured there will be no whin­ing, no judg­ment calls, and no mer­cy.” The teams assem­bled include “Triple Espres­so” (Francesco Tot­ti, Hidetoshi Naka­ta, and Thier­ry Hen­ry), “Equipo del Fuego” (Her­nan Cre­spo, Clau­dio Lopez, and Gaiz­ka Mendi­eta), and the “Funk Seoul Broth­ers” (Deníl­son de Oliveira Araújo, Ki Hyeon Seol, and Ronald­in­ho). You’ll see quite a lot of action between them on this bro­ken-down futur­is­tic prison of a pitch in the three min­utes of “The Secret Tour­na­ment,” but things inten­si­fy fur­ther in “The Rematch” just above. You can find more behind-the-scenes mate­r­i­al at Dreams: The Ter­ry Gilliam Fanzine.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Ter­ry Gilliam’s Debut Ani­mat­ed Film, Sto­ry­time

A Very Ter­ry Gilliam Christ­mas: Season’s Greet­ings, 1968 and 2011

Lost In La Man­cha: Ter­ry Gilliam and the “Curse of Quixote”

Ter­ry Gilliam: The Dif­fer­ence Between Kubrick (Great Film­mak­er) and Spiel­berg (Less So)

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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