Even if you never watched a second of professional wrestling, odds are you’ll still know who Andre the Giant was. He’s hard to forget as he was literally a giant of a man, standing over 7 feet tall. He was a living legend during his time as a professional wrestler because of his size. But the man also did other stuff outside the ring, such as starring in films such as the Princess Bride. I never got to see Andre the Giant wrestle in a live event as he sadly passed away a couple of years before I was born but, as a wrestling fan, I was familiar with the character and the legendary tales that were told about him.
It’s no exaggeration that I was always very curious about the man and how much of the stories were fact and which were fiction. Now, while the HBO documentary about the Eight Wonder of the World doesn’t dispel a lot of the myths and truths behind his life, I did walk away with a greater appreciation of Andre the Giant’s legacy as well as the French native who was born Andre Roussimoff.
One thing I have to say about the Andre the Giant documentary HBO put out is that it focuses mostly on his career in the United States and the WWF/WWE up until his legendary match against Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania III. It’s not like it glosses over those event as there are a few interesting details that are mentioned about Andre Roussimoff’s childhood as well as Andre the Giant’s declining health. But there is hardly any mention about his career as part of the Colossal Connection with Haku or how he beat Hulk Hogan with the help of a crooked referee only for him to sell the WWF Heavyweight Championship to The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, leading to the tournament in Wrestlemania IV.
It is kind of a shame to me that the documentary doesn’t really delve into his childhood all that much as well as his life and career after Wrestlemania III. I would say I’ve become somewhat familiar with Andre the Giant’s accomplishments in the WWE/WWF despite him dying before I was even born as I’ve done some research about him and have watched some of his matches with the help of the WWE app and YouTube. In retrospect, I guess it makes sense because, for most viewers, that is the precise time period that would seem to be the most interesting.
I do love the introspective of some of the people they interviewed. It wasn’t surprising to see the likes of Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair as well as a few wrestling historians wax nostalgic over Andre the Giant’s career. It also wasn’t astonishing that they managed to interview Andreo Roussimoff’s surviving family members back in France. However, I was actually kind of taken aback that they got Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal and Robin Wright, who were in the Princess Bride, where Andre played Fezzik. Yeah, it sounds stupid that I would’ve been surprised by their appearance in the documentary since they did appear in the trailer for the HBO documentary. But I didn’t know that they would have some rather poignant stories about him. They spoke really highly of him, which really touched me.
Of course, they just couldn’t just focus on the “happy” moments and the tributes as to what a great guy Andre was. The film contains a good mixture of funny, inspiring and sad anecdotes about Andre the Giant’s life. Even if you are billed as the Eight Wonder of the World, Andre the Giant’s life wasn’t all that wonderful. Although the documentary does show that he enjoyed wrestling and going all around the world to entertain fans, he had to deal with a lot of struggles and pain to just get around. Essentially, every thing in the world was not built with a man of his size in mind so even the mere act of finding a comfortable chair was difficult for Andre the Giant. Also, he had to live with chronic pain his entire life as his body started to give out on him because of his enormous size. It’s sad to hear those kinds of stories, especially when you think of all the joy he gave others.
But there were also the lighter side of Andre the Giant’s life. Even Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan had to acknowledge that, despite his intimidating nature, Andre the Giant was a fun guy to be around. From tales of his amazing flatulence to his ability to drink incredible amounts of liquor in one sitting, these tales were both humorous as well as humanizing at the same time as it showed Andre the Giant was still a person that liked a lot of the same things people did. Yet, you can’t help but think that some of these tales were just exaggerations of the man. Still, these tall tales did add to the myth that was Andre the Giant.
Most of those tales, however, I already knew in one way or another. As someone who loves the world of professional wrestling, I have come across a lot of these stories and myths about Andre the Giant before I even watched the HBO documentary. Whether they be from articles singing Andre’s praises or from posts stating what kind of man he was when he was alive, not many of the stories told here wasn’t really all that illuminating to me as I already knew about those facts and stories before. I feel that a lot of the more dedicated wrestling fans such as myself will feel the same way.
But, while the documentary was somewhat bereft of unfamiliar content, the Andre the Giant documentary was filled with a lot of emotional content. The interviews with Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon were generally filled with a lot of heartfelt memories about Andre the Giant and what he was like as both the WWE/WWF personality and as a person and you can see a lot of melancholy emotion in their faces as they regaled tales of the Eight Wonder of the World. Probably the best tale was the buildup and the match at Wrestlemania III with Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan. To hear Hulk Hogan’s point-of-view on how the match went down was indeed fun and also a testament to Andre the Giant in that he knew what was best for the WWE/WWF at the time. While I was familiar with the match in its entirety, hearing how the match was worked was pretty fun and you can definitely hear Hulk Hogan’s love for Andre for giving him his moment.
Overall, HBO’s Andre the Giant documentary may feel a little light on the details on his life as it just focused on his WWE/WWF career up until Wrestlemania III. However, I can’t say I didn’t feel that I walked away cheated as it was smart of HBO to focus on the biggest moments of his life and career. While I would’ve appreciated a little more facts about his early life and his later career, I couldn’t help but feel satisfied after watching this film from start to finish thanks to the emotional stories that were told. This is an easy must-watch for wrestling fans but also a good watch for anyone who likes watching the life story of a man who was larger than life in both the literal and figurative sense.
Have you seen the Andre the Giant documentary that HBO did? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!