by Nile Fortner
In the late 70’s and 80’s, WWF (now WWE) superstar Andre Roussimoff, better known as Andre the Giant, was a professional wrestling superstar. Many people already knew that the story-lines in TV wrestling were fake and some people had a hard time accepting the truth that Andre stood seven feet tall and weighed 500 pounds, a behemoth of a man.
Andre was nicknamed “The Eighth Wonder of the World” and a “Larger than Life Existence”. HBO’s Andre the Giant documentary is a larger than life documentary that does a good job of showing the career, influence, ups-and-downs that Andre dealt with in his inspirational lifetime.
Whether you’re a wrestling fan runnin’ wild, brother or you simply want to know more about Andre, this documentary has something for you. This inside look shows a journey of Andre’s beginning to his glory years and everything in between.
I loved seeing the evolution of Andre to a small town boy into the worldwide phenomenon that he became. One thing I really enjoyed seeing was all the rare footage they acquired for this documentary.
They show young footage of Andre looking like a skinny kid training in the ring. As someone who grew up being a WWE and wrestling fan, I didn’t even know that footage existed. We’ve had old footage of Andre before, but nothing that I can remember that goes that far back. That footage shows Andre doing moves that we did not see in WWE. For instance, for a big guy, we see Andre doing dropkicks and moving around that ring like a tank with a Ferrari engine.
The documentary also got interviews with Andre’s family and showed the small northern French country-side village where Andre grew up. We get this feeling of Andre being a small village boy going places and “being somebody” that we’ve seen in so many movies. However, the HBO documentary focuses a lot on the people who grew up around Andre instead of Andre himself. I like this because it gives his family and friends a moment to shine and talk about Andre from a different point of view.
WWE Hall of Famers and current WWE superstars like Ric Flair, Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, Shane McMahon, and Jerry Lawler all give good interviews and discuss the impact Andre had.
They all discuss his rise to fame in the wrestling business and they really humanize the big guy. For instance, WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan says, “He told people in the back he was tired of people making fun of him. It hurts his feelings, and for a big guy he could get a little sensitive.” Andre went through a lot of pain physically and mentally. As chairman and CEO of WWE Vince McMahon says, “Andre knew he wasn’t going to live very long,” because Andre suffered from acromegaly (a disorder that produces too much growth hormone) which would explain his huge size.
Even though Andre had hopes of being somebody, Andre spent a lot of time traveling the world and being uncomfortable. The documentary touches upon how flying on an airplane is hard for Andre. If flying on an airplane is uncomfortable for a majority of average sized people, I could only imagine how difficult it was for a 7-foot 500-pound man. Hogan mentions that the airplane bathrooms were too small and Andre had to pee in buckets during a 14-hour flight. It seems that Andre wanted the best of both worlds when it came to be a worldwide sensation and a quiet country life.
Moreover, this documentary actually plays out like a movie, because it introduces the viewers to three acts. Act one introducing Andre as a young man in a little country town. Act two humanizing Andre, with Ric Flair calling him a ladies man and everyone showing love for him. Act three, the big battle at WrestleMania three against Hulk Hogan and Andre’s passing.
The third act showing the battle of the big men, Hogan and Andre, was well done. I was expecting them just to do a run and play-by-play of the historic match. Instead, they give a ton of information and footage of what went into creating and hyping up that WrestleMania match.
I do wish we would have gotten a little bit more of Andre the person and his family, instead of putting all the spotlight on his wrestling career and his WrestleMania three match with Hogan. There are other documentaries out there about the wrestling career of Andre. This one did separate itself from the others by digging into the early footage, interviewing family, and really showing us who Andre the Giant was. But it feels like it relied a lot on the wrestling because it wants to bring in that guaranteed audience and fan base.
The HBO documentary does show and discuss the not so pleasant moments in Andre’s life, for example, they discuss his drinking problem. According to Rob Reiner, who shows up in this documentary, Andre drank 20 bottles of wine on a film set. Ric Flair also discusses this and according to Flair, “Andre drank 106 bottles in one night.” I don’t know how true that is, it seems a little sketchy. However, it added a little bit of fun until it was later revealed he did having a drinking problem.
Overall, HBO’s documentary on Andre the Giant is a slobber knocker. Watching this I did get a better understanding of Andre and his legacy. We get some great footage and a good look at the big man’s wrestling life. I just wish we would have gotten a little bit more of his earlier years in the small French village and upbringing. That way this documentary truly stands out like no other. I believe HBO’s Andre the Giant earns a…
3.5 out of 5 Hairpieces!