The documentary Andre the Giant airs April 10th on HBO.
It’s rare that an icon can transcend generations as a someone whose impact was so great that the mention of their name is immediately recognizable by both young and old. Andre the Giant was this type of icon.
HBO Films’ newest documentary chronicles the life and career of Andre the Giant through old photographs, video footage and a variety of interviews from those that knew him best and were closest to him through life. And yet, despite the abundance of information presented about him, I found that by the end of the documentary I felt no closer to better understanding this figure than when I had first started. This is difficult to admit because I had been anticipating this documentary for quite some time. I hoped that it would set itself apart from other sports docs by approaching the subject’s life story from a different angle, or offer better insight into things that are already public knowledge.
The doc features excellent interviews with fellow wrestlers such as Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, and Jerry Lawler, who offer their incredible comprehension into the man they knew behind the legend as he would tour America’s early wrestling scene helping others build up their careers. They are the most valuable aspect of the narrative; they provide a strong frame for who Andre really was. They also gave a more colorful portrayal of his sense of humor, business savvy mind, and ability to create an entire brand to increase the longevity of one’s career. But the greatest moments from the documentary were the candid stories about Andre’s ability to drink alcohol in mass quantities and how he expressed his feelings towards you if he didn’t like you (a la Iron Sheik and Macho Man Randy Savage).
Where I felt the documentary lacked was its inability to dive deeper behind Andre the man. This is somewhat understandable, Andre was a very private person after all. Still, it felt as if there was far more to be said on the subject than what actually made it into the film.
Some of his family and close friends helped paint an image of the man behind the Giant persona who knew he wasn’t meant long for this world, but their stories were few and barely revealed things we didn’t already know or could surmise for ourselves. I finished wanting to know more about parts of Andre’s love life, Andre’s last days, and what Andre did on his farm in North Carolina.
In the end, Andre the Giant was a great look into the short life of one of the most mythical human beings in our lifetime and while yes, there could have been more time spent on ‘private’ matters, there is no denying how special Andre was. Any glimpse that we are granted into his life is something special in and of itself.
This was an extremely entertaining documentary that is very carefully crafted and engaging to the viewer the entire time. If you are a fan or remotely curious as to what made this incredible man tick, I strongly encourage you to check out Andre the Giant.
I give Andre the Giant an A-.