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HBO’s Andre The Giant documentary examines the myth more than the man

In the late stages of HBO’s Andre The Giant documentary, David Shoemaker compares Andre to Vlad the Impaler, Davey Crocket and William Wallace as men who were actual human beings around whom an entire mythology has been built up.

That, in many ways, is what the film captures. More than a deep examination of Andre Roussimoff as a man, it is far more a look at the myth of Andre The Giant both during his life and in the 25 years since his death.

That’s not to say the film explicitly avoids Andre’s human side, there are great moments speaking to his brothers along with footage of him as a 19-year-old — which, incidentally, also reminds the legend would be in his early 70s had acromegaly not cut his life short.

But, it is more about the pop culture figure of Andre The Giant, and his impact on the wrestling world and the way a world not built for him simultaneously gave him life and wore him down both physically and mentally.

The legendary drinking is, of course, discussed as are tales of him having multiple rows of teeth and two hearts. There is also an extended segment on the specific noise made when Andre “took a fart” as Mean Gene Okerlund put it.

The rougher side of Andre — mostly born of insecurity and jealousy — is mostly passed over in favor of tales of how “he could rough up the men he did not like in the ring.” This is not, as previously stated, a film critiquing him as a human and the impact he had on those around him and the world as a whole.

The narrative of the film is also heavily based in the building of Hulk Hogan as wrestling’s new pop culture icon and Vince McMahon’s push to take the WWF national. Both Hogan and McMahon, in recognizing the impact Andre had on their lives, show deep and true emotion. Vince, specifically, has rarely been seen being so openly emotional.

Wrestling fans versed in the history of the “sport” should not tune in to the documentary — which airs tonight (Tuesday, April 10 at 10 p.m. ET on HBO) — expecting many stories they have not heard previously. But they should absolutely tune in for a beautifully produced documentary — the scenes with the cast from The Princess Bride are especially entertaining — that examines Andre The Giant, a man of great size in every sense and what that size gave to the world and took from his life.

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