13 April 2016 | paul2001sw-1
It ain't easy 'Being Evel'
Robert "Evel" Kneivel was a daredevil, a hustler, and a good-looking young man whose motorcycling jumping, attempted without any respect to what we would now call health and safety, thrilled audiences who, as he once said, "didn't want him to die, but wanted to be there if he did". He came to live his own legend, firstly by attempting insanely stupid things (for example, the Snake River "jump") because his reputation demanded it, and ultimately by coming to believe he could make his own rules (something which led him to cheat on his wife, go to prison for assault, and so on). The latter cost him his lucrative endorsements and his later life was lived in the shadow of his earlier fame. On a purely technical level, it could be said that Evel wasn't even especially talented (although his primitive equipment didn't help) - he is after all a man most famous for crashing - but in some ways, the self-promotion is the story, and for those of us who grew up in the 1970s, he remains an iconic figure, a superhero in the flesh. Consider him just a celebrity and the arc of his life, crashing to earth like the Snake River rocket-bike, makes more sense. 'Being Evel' is a fascinating exploration of a complex and iconic figure; and gives you some sympathy for the man, even though he could be a monster. There are easier ways to make a living than he did; and in some ways, simply 'Being Evel' was far harder work than any of his stunts.