ANDRE THE GIANT
Starring: André Rene Roussimoff, Vince McMahon, Ric Flair, Billy Crystal, Hulk Hogan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and more.
Directed by: Jason Hehir
Written by: Simon Pummell
Anyone who is a wrestling fan knows exactly who Andre the Giant is. Billed at 7’4 and over 500 lbs, Andre was larger than life in an industry filled with over the top characters. It makes sense that Bill Simmons would make Andre the subject of his latest sports documentary for HBO.
The documentary starts as one would expect. Pictures of Andre through the years scroll by before the documentary begins in a small village outside of Paris. While anyone who has researched Andre’s life before would have known some of the details about where he was born, the documentary delves into Andres life as a child in the small village. The never before seen pictures and stories from his family focus on what his life was like long before his stardom. It’s interesting to hear some of the stories of him growing up. It also makes you question how his life may have been different if medical research had been more advanced.
Throughout the film, various wrestlers, friends, and wrestling historians are brought on to tell personal stories about Andre and the kind of person he was. The stories of his drinking are legendary, and each of them are touched on here. His sense of humor and ability to prank those around him reiterate the good-natured person that he was. Legends of his prowess when it comes to drinking are entertaining. They also highlight how much pain Andre was in most of his later years. Leaving out how the alcohol and the wear and tear on his body from years of travel is a glaring omission.
Before Vince McMahon decided to create a national wrestling promotion, wrestling was made up of territories. The wrestlers would spend time within a territory and eventually move on before the audiences grew tired of their act. It is brought up that this helped Andre become known nationally quickly as rumors of this large athlete coming to town helped draw in the crowds. As the stories of Andre traveling from town to town were touched on, the documentary takes a detour to focus on Vince McMahon building the WWE. It is not surprising that the little detour is here. WWE executives were part of the creative team behind the documentary. However, it is a problem that comes up again later.
The climax of the documentary revolves around WrestleMania 3. Andre’s body was starting to turn against him. He was ready to leave the ring behind. If you were to believe Vince McMahon, he saved Andre’s life at that point by convincing him to come back to the ring to fight Hulk Hogan. Unfortunately, Vince McMahon has proven time and time again that he is willing to tell a lie to make himself and the WWE look like the good guys in a situation.
Perhaps Vince is telling the truth here. But even a passing comment by McMahon reveals that Vince felt that Andre was not useful to the WWE anymore. WrestleMania 3 is the perfect backdrop to tell the story of Andre passing the torch to the next generation. It also serves as a way of pushing the WWE into the behemoth that it is today. That is the problem and it is too perfect. McMahon and Hogan tell the story of not knowing if Andre would do the job. You admire the move by Andre. However, if Vince was not sure that Andre was willing to hand the torch, then he would have never let the match take place.
I have some serious concerns with the way that some of the facts are presented within Andre The Giant. It is obvious that the WWE used this to present themselves in a positive light. That said, if you are curious about Andre the Giant this is a great documentary that will help you learn about the man. It will also serve as a reminder that everyone, no matter their heights, is going through something. So, sit down and Watch Andre the Giant and learn about a man bigger than life itself
Andre the Giant is available on HBO on Demand currently.