Andre the Giant is one of the most legendary figures in professional wrestling history. Known to fans and non-fans around the world, Andre turned his wrestling superstardom into magazine covers, television appearances, and classic roles in blockbuster movies. HBO Sports teamed with WWE for the simply titled Andre the Giant, a documentary about one of the most well-known wrestlers of all time.
Andre the Giant covers the life of the Eighth Wonder of the World, from childhood to his death at a young age. The amount of wrestling footage in the documentary is amazing. Hardcore, casual, and lapsed wrestling fans will recognize many of the wrestlers. Ox Baker, Junkyard Dog, Nick Bockwinkle, Adrian Street, Dusty Rhodes, and Antonio Inoki are just a few of the wrestlers shown.
Andre traveled the world, so along with famous wrestlers there is footage of promotions from around the world. Of course, there’s lots of footage from the WWF, but New Japan Professional Wrestling, World Class Championship Wrestling, Georgia Championship Wrestling, and Championship Wrestling from Florida are also featured. Andre the Giant does a great job of painting a picture of the territorial days of wrestling.
While old school wrestling fans will enjoy the footage, the documentary is about Andre the man, not the wrestler. These are the best moments as the wrestling information is not new and the information about Andre is very interesting. Andre’s legendary drinking habits are discussed, but interviews with Andre’s doctors, friends who are not a part of wrestling, and home movies give insight into who Andre was outside the ring.
This deeper understanding of Andre makes the film very depressing. Basic things like travel and even sitting down were a constant inconvenience and it comes as little surprise that the man was a borderline alcoholic, however hearing people made fun of Andre the person is incredibly sad. Still pictures and videos successfully show how difficult Andre’s life was. Andre the Giant never paints him in a poor light and effectively creates sympathy for the Giant.
Andre the Giant peaks when discussing WrestleMania III and the Hulk Hogan/Andre the Giant match. This will be the most interesting part of the documentary for many long time wrestling fans. Hogan’s account of the match has changed countless times over the years, with Andre’s weight being as much as 800 pounds, to Andre refusing to cooperate for the memorable slam (a bodyslam requires the person being slammed to allow himself to be lifted), to claiming that Andre died days after the match.
Unsurprisingly, Hogan’s narrative for the match has changed yet again. This one seems a little more believable and there are others that seem to corroborate his newest story (the always honorable Vince McMahon) and scenes of the famous match are shown as Hogan speaks in a nice touch. Hogan then closes his recount with possibly his most unbelievable revelation of the match. Footage shown seems to contradict Hogan, but it is amusing to hear Hogan is still expanding the already mythical status of the match.
Andre the Giant is interesting, but it is not much different than a documentary produced wholly by WWE. There are bigger celebrities, but they don’t add much. There’s also nothing that hasn’t been heard before regarding Andre’s wrestling career. HBO has an illustrious history of critically renowned documentaries so it is somewhat disappointing that Andre the Giant falls short of some other WWE productions. That being said, it does provide an intimate look into Andre’s life that will draw any viewer in.
Andre the Giant is an engaging, if somber look at the life of one of professional wrestling’s biggest stars. The run time is short and hardcore fans will hear little in the way of new information, but interesting interviews, classic footage, and pictures impressively tell the story of Andre the Giant the wrestler and the person.