Being Evel (2015)

DailyView: Day 67, Movie 114

“Fast, faster and disaster.” -Johnny Knoxville

The next July 4th DailyView film is a documentary of someone who, as a young boy growing up in the late seventies, early eighties, you could not help but idolize. Robert ‘Evel” Knievel rode his motorcycle into my mind as a young boy and took his place as a hero for me.

I had no idea about what kind of a man Evel Knievel actually was. I was just a dumb little kid. It shocked me when they started talking about Knievel’s Snake River attempted jump because I remembered that. I remember watching it. I would have only been 5 years old, and that blows my mind.

I had the Evel Knievel cycle toys that were mentioned here. I oved those, despite them never working as well as they did in the commercials they showed.

Evel Knievel was one of my childhood heroes, and I was not the only one. Johnny Knoxville, from Jackass fame, was inspired by Knievel as well and he was the main thrust behind the documentary, Being Evel.

Being Evel was a well-balanced, well-constructed documentary that looked at Robert Knievel’s life from a little rambunctious kid to the apologetic man on his deathbed, and every wart in between. The film did not take a rose-colored glasses view of Evel Knievel and got plenty of voices from people in the know. There was also more tape on Knievel speaking than I had ever heard. There was truth behind the hero, who was not always heroic, that the film does a fantastic job of displaying.

Evel Knievel was larger than life for much of the American public during the 1970s, and the fascination of that public is a theme of this documentary. Filmmaker Daniel Junge gave us a special insight into the character of Evel Knievel and the drawbacks of Robert Knievel and how they were sometimes at odds with each other.

We saw how Evel Knievel was able to take his ability to jump a motorcycle and turn it into a spectacle, something that would attract the attention of the public that he so clearly craved. It showed us how lavish of a lifestyle he led, comparing Knievel to Elvis Presley and Liberace.

The footage of the crashes are right there, a major part of any story of Evel Knievel’s life. Some of them are difficult to watch. It was a powerful moment of uncertainty, and you can feel what the unknowing crowd must have felt watching this live.

He used to wear the red, white and blue jumpsuit and to someone like me, Evel Knievel was like a superhero. This documentary shows that side but is not afraid to give you an understanding of what was behind the façade.

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