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  • 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.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a fascinating, exhaustive and well researched, and entertaining documentary about the flamboyant daredevil motorbike riding Evel Knievel. Born Robert Craig Knievel in Butte, Montana, he became world famous as Evel Knevel, given to dangerous stunts like jumping over buses and his flamboyant appearances on television. He was the iconic hero America needed during troubled times. He has been the subject of many other documentaries, but unlike previous films Being Evel is not simply a hagiography, but rather offers up a detailed and revealing a warts and all look at Knievel and shows his darker nature and volatile personality. There is his vicious attack on Sally Saltman, his former press agent, with a baseball bat that landed him in jail. Knievel lived much of his life in the public eye, so there is a wealth of archival material for veteran documentary director Daniel Junge (A LEGO Brickumentary, etc) to draw upon. The film shows many of his spectacular stunts and some sickening footage of his many crash landings. But the centrepiece of the film centres around his much publicised failed attempt to jump across the Grand Canyon in a purpose built miniature rocket, and we get plenty of juicy revelations and speculation about what went wrong here. And a number of friends, family members and colleagues recall colourful and lively anecdotes about the man. Jackass's Johnny Knoxville is obviously a huge fan, and here he waxes lyrical about the man and his achievements, and acknowledges the impact Knievel had on the establishment of extreme sports. Actor George Hamilton, who played Knievel in an awful 1972 biopic and who is one of the producers of this film, recounts a fascinating anecdote that illustrates Knievel's sense of his own infallibility and his growing paranoia and egocentric behaviour. One of the more entertaining documentaries screening at MIFF, Being Evel demystifies the complex, complicated and deeply flawed man behind the legend and is a lot of fun to watch!
  • Without Evel Knievel would we've been treated to such popular events as extreme sports, such shows as Jackass/The Dudeson's and would we've had superstars like Johnny Knoxville, The Crusty Demons and a range of other noteworthy names pushing the boundaries of what's expected from performers and athletes? It's an intriguing question and one that filmmaker Daniel Junge looks to answer in his by the books but insightful examination of Robert Craig Knievel's aka "Evel Knievel" rise and fall.

    Produced by Jackass lynchpins Johnny Knoxville and Jeff Tremaine, Being Evel is a clear love letter from the two gentleman and in particular Knoxville who was inspired by Knievel as a child so much so that he became the household name he is today. Knoxville spends time in front of the camera speaking about Knievel's impact on his life and the admiration he has for him shines through but Junge's trump card is the amount of Knievel acquaintances he manages to round up to talk intimately about the performer who pushed himself and pushed away those he loved with a prickly, womanising demeanour that eventually drove him off the edge.

    Being Evel shows a clear divide between the Evel the thousands upon thousands of crowd members saw and the one that operated behind closed doors and those who believe Evel to be a lovable American flag waver will be shocked by some of the man's behavioural tendencies from an explosive temper, unfaithfulness to his loved ones and desire to push himself no matter the physical or mental costs.

    Utilising the talking heads with ample archival footage, Junge collates everything into a clearly decipherable manner but the documentary never strays to far from its TV like roots and there are moments throughout the film where the interest levels will waver but there always bought back around again with Evel's next outlandish actions never too far away.

    In the age in which boundaries are being pushed daily through professional and more Youtube like ways, Evel Knievel's antics may now seem a little "so what" but there's little point in denying that his the granddaddy of the showmanship and conceptual ideas of the modern day extreme athletes and performers. Being Evel is a must watch for Knievel fans and an insightful (if overly workmanlike) event for us bystanders.

    3 blinged up walking canes out of 5
  • Long before this generation's fail stunt montage and insane extreme sport tricks, there was a famed daredevil who is equally charismatic and audacious. This is a appreciation of Evel Knievel's life in honest manner, delivering the larger-than-life stunts as well as the insightful story of the man even when he's at his controversial peak. It takes someone with bravado to not only present a spectacle, but also an entire captivating visage.

    The documentary takes a various account of Evel's relatives, friends and even pop celebrities. It's almost like a tale from 70s movie of hotheaded stuntman, adoration of danger and just the charm of outlandish event beyond daily grind. By using detailed perspective of people who were there at the time, it makes an intriguing story of a flawed hero.

    It doesn't hide negative things about the man, instead bringing some of his darker more undesired side into light. As much as Evel has inspired people, the documentary doesn't only glorify his achievements. It candidly, although still delicately, displays the broken habit while his body is continuously worn down. This, in turn, produces a more humane point of view even though his actions at the time might not be agreeable.

    It also encapsulates the tension between the jumps, the preparations of it and both the success and failure that follow. Some of these are pretty well-known, yet it's still a fascinating spectacle due to emotion invested on the jumps, even from bystanders. There are a couple of segments that highlight the effort appropriately and these moments can be appreciated decades after the stunts themselves.

    From people who celebrate his, this is a documentary of inspiring man behind famous name and costume, his dazzling accomplishments and also some of his unfortunately missteps.
  • This is a great documentary of the life and times of the amazing Evel Knievel. Old footage of his iconic motorcycle jumps,old interviews of friends and family interspersed with interviews of the same people now,all make for fascinating viewing. I found it cool that they included George Hamilton and got his observations,and retrospective commentary about the 1971 Evel Knievel film that Hamilton starred in as EK. (I recently re-watched Hamilton's EK movie,it was better than I remember,I saw it as a young kid on tv in about 1975 or so. Seeing it recently,I thought it was very good and Hamilton did a fine job as EK.) No matter how much you may know about EK,you will almost surely see,hear,or learn something about the man that you never knew before. (I never remember hearing anything,ever,about the scene at the snake river canyon jump,for example) Overall a good and important movie,I don't think there is a boy that grew-up in the 70's that didn't crash trying to jump a wagon or garbage can etc on their bicycle. Good times !
  • Robert ("Evel") Knievel grew up in a tough mining community in Bute, Montana, where the prevailing philosophy seemed to be to throw a punch first and ask questions later. Gender roles were well-established there: the men had to be aggressive as well as assertive, while the women simply existed to serve them.

    This upbringing had a profound effect on Knievel's subsequent life, which was dominated by the desire to prove he was the best. After a successful, if meteoric career selling insurance and motor-cycles, he decided to become a stuntperson. He began by working as part of a team, but soon discovered there was far more kudos attached to working on his own. The Evel Knievel legend was born. With a combination of brash salespersonship and often crazy stunts - that frequently went wrong - Knievel rose to the top of the celebrity tree, making fantastic sums of Money and appearing regularly on big chat-shows of the Seventies hosted by Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett.

    Daniel Junge's documentary also shows that he was a deeply unpleasant person. He was serially unfaithful to his wife, and any member of the press unfortunate enough to cross his path was subject to a torrent of abuse. While certainly suffering from insecurities immediately prior to his various stunts, Knievel was also driven by hubris, prompting him to put his life (and family) continually at risk. No one, it seemed, was more important than himself.

    His fall from grace was as rapid as his rise. Sentenced to six months in jail for assaulting his one-time publicity manager, he continued to manipulate the media for his own ends, without realizing that they had turned against him. Lucrative contracts were suspended; the girls, gold and glitter evaporated; and Knievel was left virtually destitute.

    In his last years he tried to atone for his past behavior, but the documentary suggested that this was equally driven by hubris: why not manipulate the media in another way, even though you might be on the professional scrap-heap? BEING EVEL told a cautionary tale of a celebrity who quite literally did not understand the limits - either of human endeavor or his close associates' patience with him. Despite his enduring reputation, he came across as a rather sad case.
  • When I saw it was going to be a 99 minute long documentary about Evel Knievel I was wondering if they could fill all that time with something interesting to watch. As an European I only knew Evel Knievel as a daredevil, like everyone else in the world at that time, but nothing about his day-to-day life. So yes it was a very interesting story to watch, very well made, with a lot of interviews from people that knew him very well. The message was clear that Evel Knievel perfectly knew what he did, he's smarter then you would think, a perfect con-man that knows how to work people and media. Via his stunts (something never did before at that time) he made his money, not only by manipulating the whole circus that he created himself, but also with some crazy stunts that nobody would think of doing. It became clear he wasn't the most pleasant man on earth, you could blame it on not being able to handle the fame even though I think he mastered that, or blame it on the stress and the pain he suffered daily (that seems more plausible to me), but the fact is that he was kind of a bully and that even long before pain and/or fame. That said, everybody loved his stunts, but not everybody loved the man. This documentary is very open about the life of Evel Knievel, it's not only the good things they show, it's the whole package and that made this documentary stand out of the rest. Very well made! Recommended to the fans but also to anybody that likes good documentaries.
  • I'm one of those 70s kids that literally wore out my Ideal Evel Knievel toy cycle. There's nothing it couldn't jump (in my mind).

    So it goes without saying I adored the guy at the time.

    No longer.

    I always knew he was a person that lived on the edge, but never knew how abusive he was - emotionally, and notably physically - to the people close to him, until I saw this wonderful documentary.

    We learn briefly about his upbringing, and the rough life in Montana. Looking back then it's clear he was a self-obsessed grifter. And we get to hear from the people that knew him best, but no one seemed to like him. At all.

    Have no idea why his wife stuck with him for so long. She seems a sweetheart.

    Anyway, the movie provides a lot of insight into the man, accompanied by lots of footage I'd never seen before. Well done and moves quickly. A notable piece of 70s Americana. Definitely worth a watch.
  • Released in 2015 and directed by Daniel Junge, "Being Evel" is a documentary on the rise, glory and fall of the stuntman who started the sport of motorcycle jumping and was the catalyst to widespread daredevilry of the sort.

    To let you know how great this documentary is, I decided to check out 15-20 minutes when it was already past my bedtime and I ended up viewing the whole film. It's THAT compelling. The movie contains interviews with every primary person linked to Robert 'Evel' Knievel, including associates, employees, relatives, reporters and those he inspired. It's such a fascinating story of a flawed man who was obsessed with success and recognition to the point he regularly risked life and limb.

    Family members point out that they lost Bobby Knievel to Evel Knieval as he conquered the world with his daredevilry and ensuing fame. To cope with the stress of regularly facing death and the ever-increasing pain of his multiple wounds he turned to alcohol, meds and loose sex. By the time of his Snake River Canyon jump he was so anxious he turned on the reporters, which was a bad move since they were the ground laborers that assisted his fame. After his 1977-78 conviction and six months prison sentence for assaulting the writer of his biography (which everyone involved said was accurate and, if anything, too tame), he lost most of his marketing endorsements and deals, including Harley-Davidson and Ideal Toys, which led to his bankruptcy.

    Despite his glaring downfall, the movie thankfully ends on a very positive note.

    The film runs 99 minutes. GRADE: A+
  • bbewnylorac23 October 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    Growing up in the 1970s, Evel Knievel was an almost mythical figure -someone who took incredible risks and seemed invincible. This doco shows us the real man, and Knievel comes out of it appallingly. It's to the great credit of writer/director Daniel Junge that the story isn't sugar-coated. Quite the opposite. Knievel was a criminal as a young man, and also later, and was eventually a boor, a bully, a womaniser..he didn't consider his friends' and family's feelings when he kept doing stunts. It must have been traumatising for them to have to see him get badly injured or only just cheat death. I got the impression he thought he was immortal, that he could never die. Probably he was just very lucky. But his fans had a kind of unreal, godly image of him. He was willing to go further across the line of danger than anyone else. He was witty, audacious and outrageous. Also at times stupid, such as baiting the Hell's Angels until they attacked him. Or breaking his friend's arms for writing an authorised book about him. All his inner circle agree that the book was accurate. In any case, the assault ruined Knievel's life because he lost his sponsors and went to jail. I don't feel the movie got to the heart of what motivated him to be a stunt rider. Maybe it was to do with his parents abandoning him as a child. He did want to be rich and famous. He was clearly mentally ill -- given many of the jumps he did. He was like someone running into a burning house, not knowing what would happen to him, seemingly not caring if he died. The doco interviews just about everyone still alive who knew Evel. And they all trust Junge to tell the story. Many of them tell negative stories but also weird and funny stories. They all seem to respect Junge. I questioned why they stuck by Knievel when many of his stunts appeared suicide missions. And also when he was nasty. A fascinating film about a charismatic and (ultimately) all too human, man.