Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Andre the Giant (2018 film)

Directed by Jason Hehir and written by Simon Pummell, Andre the Giant is a documentary film about the legendary pro wrestler who was born with gigantism which would make him a beloved figure in the world of pro wrestling yet would deal with the prejudices of being gigantic. The film follows the man’s life from his early upbringing in France to being one of the most popular pro wrestlers in the world as well as being in movies like The Princess Bride. With interviews from wrestlers Hulk Hogan, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Pat Patterson, and Ric Flair as well as actors Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and filmmaker Rob Reiner. The result is a somber yet extravagant film about a man who was indeed larger than life.

Andre Rene Roussimoff was a man from a small French town just 40 miles away from Paris as he unexpectedly was growing very rapidly as a teenager where he would become a professional wrestler around the age of 17. Yet, this gigantic growth which he didn’t know where it was from would make him a major celebrity as well as a mythical figure in the world of professional wrestling. The film follows the man’s life from his beginnings in the small French town of Moliens where he lived with his two brothers who are interviewed in the film along with sister-in-law as they talk about Andre’s life in the small town and the difficulty he had with his growth. Yet, it would contribute to his love of athletics including rugby which would get him the attention of a local wrestling coach who saw what he could do.

Aside from pro wrestling writer Dave Meltzer, historians talk about Andre’s early wrestling career as it showed his athleticism early on but as his gigantism grew. He would become this special attraction upon his arrival in the early 1970s in Montreal where he got the attention of many promoters in North America. He would work in many territories in America as wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Pat Patterson, and Ric Flair along with wrestling announcer “Mean” Gene Okerlund would talk about not just Andre’s work method but also how he would run the locker rooms as he would protect and sell other wrestlers who are good to him but then there’s those he didn’t like such as Big John Studd and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. The latter of which was revealed by Hogan about Savage using baby oil to make himself look good but it pissed Andre off really bad who really slapped the shit out of Savage.

There are also these mythological stories that are told such as the consumption of alcohol that Andre had drank where Flair claimed he saw him drank 106 cans of beer in one night. It adds to the mythology and legend of Andre as another WWE personnel that talks about Andre is referee Tim White who was Andre’s handler for much of his career. There were also discussions of Andre’s life outside the ring where he did struggle with his condition and learned about it much later in his life though he didn’t seek treatment as he felt it would threaten his career. There was also the fact that he had a daughter named Robin Christensen Roussimoff, who is interviewed in the film, as she shows pictures of her time with her father at his farm in Erbelle, North Carolina. The people who lived in Erbelle talked about Andre who felt at home in the town as his times traveling would often make him feel lonely and sensitive where he found a surrogate family in the people who looked after his ranch.

Actors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, and Billy Crystal talk about their time with him as Schwarzenegger knew him during the 1970s as he was often in awe of him. Elwes, Wright, and Crystal along with filmmaker Rob Reiner talked about working with him on The Princess Bride as they revealed some tidbits about the film as well as the pain that Andre was feeling as it relates to his back. With the help of editor Daniel Goddard, director Jason Hehir wouldn’t just compile the many footage of his matches but also some rare pictures including a few from Elwes and Andre’s daughter Robin as it shows someone who wanted to be like everyone else. WWE chairman Vince McMahon does dwell into Andre’s final years as he admitted that resentment from Andre over having to retire while WWE would continue without him as he felt sad that he is unable to wrestle. It was in early 1993 when Andre returned to France to visit his ailing father and then be at his funeral where he unexpectedly died on January 27, 1993 at the age of 46.

Hehir’s direction would have many of the people interviewed in a straightforward manner with Hogan being the one to talk about Andre’s impact as well as how he had been able to play a major part of the 1980s wrestling boom. The film’s music by Thomas Caffey is terrific for its triumphant score that play into the larger-than-life persona of Andre while music supervisor Rudy Chung helping to bring in an array of music that lives up to who Andre is.

Andre the Giant is a marvelous film from Jason Hehir and HBO Sports. It’s a documentary that wrestling fans will definitely enjoy as they would get a look at one of the sport’s most beloved figures while audiences familiar with the world of popular culture will see a man who was human like everyone but also had a heart that was as big as he was where all he wanted to do was make people smile. In the end, Andre the Giant is a remarkable film from Jason Hehir.

© thevoid99 2018


Dell said...

These are the times when it sucks not having HBO. I need to see this pretty soon. I grew up a fan of Andre and the WWF, as it was known back then. Not into wrestling at all, anymore, but I still want to see this doc pretty badly.

Anonymous said...

Wow, okay, I probably would not have looked twice at this one without your say-so.

thevoid99 said...

@Wendell-I've pretty much lost interest in WWE altogether as it's run by people who really don't give a shit about their audience. I'm more into the indies and old-school stuff. Seeing this doc is a must as I hope it's available online somewhere you can see it as it's a must for anyone who loves Andre. you have HBO and a fan of old-school pro wrestling. See it. I enjoyed watching it but I also teared up over how sensitive he was.