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Andre The Giant

There are few aspects of a film production that can have more sway on me than an appeasement of nostalgia. So, when I saw the trailer for the HBO documentary ANDRE THE GIANT, it instantly shot to the top of my “must see” list. I am a child of the 80’s, and as many folks my age can attest, there was something incredible about being a professional wrestling fan in the 80’s and early 90’s. As the WWF (now known as the WWE) blossomed into a modern soap opera for an evolving world, there was no-one bigger than Andre the Giant.

ANDRE THE GIANT features a collection of incredible clips from his matches, interviews, and television appearances

HBO has a litany of outstanding documentaries in their ever-expanding catalogue, and boasts enthralling titles such as the PARADISE LOST trilogy, GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY and MOMMY DEAD AND DEAREST. ANDRE THE GIANT, while far less emotionally taxing than the aforementioned films, is no less engaging than these classics. Introspective and intimate, Jason Hehir’s superb documentary isn’t just a story of an accomplished wrestler, it’s a glimpse into the life of one of the most unique individuals in the history of popular culture.

When Andre Roussimoff was born, he was no different than anyone else. Then, in his mid-teens, he began to grow at an extremely rapid rate. Larger in both height and weight than most full grown men, he began training with local wrestlers. When a promotion needed someone to fill in for a match, Andre got the call. From that day on, he instantly became one of the biggest draws in the sport.

Through the words of his close friends we learn that Andre was kind, thoughtful, and ultimately burdened by the very thing that caused him to be one of the most recognizable figures in the world.

Andre toured the world, and was a spectacle to behold everywhere he went. Before cable television and the internet, his legend was borne by word of mouth. Curiosity seekers would come in droves to bask in the novelty of witnessing a man who was known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Eventually, he made his way to North America, and his success continued as his legend grew. At that time, wresting promotions were largely regional, and Andre crossed the country, becoming more famous with each passing city.

With the advent of cable television, Vince McMahon had the foresight to create a centralized promotion that was broadcast from coast to coast. From that point on, Andre wasn’t just popular within the pages of wrestling magazines, he was a straight-up superstar. While he continued to travel the world to wrestle, he began appearing in television series, and landed a co-starring role in the classic comedy THE PRINCESS BRIDE. As wrestling’s popularity grew, the myth of Andre the Giant did the same. Though it seemed like it was living a life that most could only dream of, and despite possessing the admiration of millions, as Andre aged, he was battling his own demons and failing body.

Hehir’s outstanding documentary effectively illustrates the daily difficulties of being over 7 feet tall and weighing over 500 pounds

Hehir’s outstanding documentary effectively illustrates the daily difficulties of being over 7 feet tall and weighing over 500 pounds. It forces the viewer, perhaps for the first time, to ponder what it was like to be Andre when the cameras weren’t rolling. Whether it was flying in an airplane, riding in a car, or going to the store, there wasn’t a second in his life where he didn’t draw stares, and far too often, relentless ridicule. Stories are told by those who knew him best, including close friend Tim White, “Mean Gene” Okerlund, Vince McMahon, and Hulk Hogan, and regardless of who was speaking, there was nothing but adoration, respect, and love. Through their words, we learn that Andre was kind, thoughtful, and ultimately burdened by the very thing that caused him to be one of the most recognizable figures in the world.
   ANDRE THE GIANT features a collection of incredible clips from his matches, interviews, and television appearances, yet the film has mass appeal that goes way beyond wrestling. You cannot tell his story without focusing on the sport that launched his career, but ultimately, this is not the essence of what defines him. Committed to his craft, and enamored with the time he spent in the squared circle, he is a fascinating character study regardless of what you thought of his profession. Tortured yet triumphant, Andre remains an enigma decades after his death, and this stunning HBO production finally shines a bright light of one for more complex characters in the world of entertainment.

Andre the Giant

on demand: Until May 20

RUN TIME: 1h 25min

GENRE: Documentary

STARRING:Andre the Giant

producers: Bill Simmons,
Janine Marmot

Distributed by: HBO

GRADE: A

ANDRE THE GIANT is currently streaming on HBO Now and HBO Go.

Brian Miller
Film Critic
Based out of Central New York, Brian Miller is a film critic who works in television, radio, and print. Providing passionate and energetic takes on every movie he sees, he looks for the best in a movie, not the worst.