I'm a total mark when it comes to pro-wrestling documentaries. I don't usually watch the ones that WWF/WWE produces about guys on the current roster, but if an outside production company takes control and looks back at someone from an in-ring and real-life perspective, I'm in. I'm just young enough that I only caught the tail end of Andre's wrestling career, but I've heard plenty of the stories; HBO dug deeper into his beginnings and looked into how some of the mythology started.

Andre Roussimoff was born on a farm in a small town about 40 miles from Paris. He allegedly stood 6'3'' and weighed over 200lbs by age 12. His immense size made farmwork easy, but when other wrestlers took notice of him at a local gym, he decided he'd rather make a career in the ring than on the farm. Traveling across France, he built up a reputation around Europe, then Japan, then worldwide.

Because of my age, I don't remember "babyface" Andre. My first memories are of the bad guy in a black one-shoulder singlet, not the "gentle giant" that he started his career as. I knew about those years, but to see him in action, to hear the stories other wrestlers told about the first time they met him, how in awe they were and the impact he had on the entire industry of professional wrestling was great.

Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Jerry Lawler, Mean Gene Okerlund: all awesome interviews. I would sit and listen to them tell old stories forever. Vince McMahon was probably the most human I've seen him be in at least a decade (even though he still seemed like he was trying to project an air of superiority, he did show actual emotion when talking about Andre's decline). Another great addition was bringing in most of the cast of "The Princess Bride", and hearing Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal, Cary Elwes, and Robin Wright reminisce.

Most of us have heard the stories of his drinking (100+ beers in one sitting, cases of wine, etc), stories of him never allowing anyone else to pick up a check at dinner, and truly being a wonderful person. It almost feels fictional, that person who deserved to live forever but got taken far too young. Andre is one of those people that you wish you knew.

[Celluloid Hero] gives "Andre the Giant" a 7 out of 10.




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