Director:Ross Hockrow, Gary Cohen
Starring: Eddie Hall, Hafthor Bjornsson, Brian Shaw, Zydrunas Savickas UK. 1h 25m
Back in the blistering 1970’s Arnold Schwarzenegger amazed us with Pumping Iron (1977), the summer of late/early 70’s was to be his final Olympia but the grimy insight into the back stage world of body building really fueled another generation. And while the sport is similar this vein of the weight lifting community is alive and thriving and this, much like Pumping Iron is an introduction to it’s hero and champions.
Born strong identifies the four strongest men on the planet and their journey to qualify for the Arnold Strongman Classic. This arm of the sport isn’t about aesthetics but in creating a body that is incredibly powerful, each of the men weight at least 400 lbs and while they are able to pull a train they can’t put on their own sock or at times successfully wipe their ass.
The documentary is incredibly frank, each of the men are humble about their background and their regime, but they aren’t foolish, they know what they are doing cannot be maintained forever, having such a bulky body for too long has it’s health risks but they each share this insane desire to be crowned the strongest man on earth are willing and able to do the unbelievable to get there.
Lithuanian Savickas is acknowledged at the Strongest man ever but at his current age, he’s having a hard time maintaining himself and is due to bow out soon. Shaw, the American representative is the current defending champ, Finally there’s the ever strong Brit, Hall is the “hungry wolf” a man totally determined to win the title as he’s ready to move on and do something else with his life.
The four strongest men on the planet compete to win the Arnold Strongman Classic.
Together they paint a detailed picture of the life of a strong man, the crew follow them through training, medical checks, and through some in depth interviews with their nearest and dearest, one great visual that Mrs Hall gave when discussing helping her husband put on his sock, “He can do it himself but have you ever seen a ladybird on its back”.
The film feels very real and en point for that’s happening right now in the scene, it’s a very cleanly filmed documentary, there’s no shaky cam business it’s clean and frank. For a while I couldn’t quite work out if there was an aim with this film, it gave a clear picture of the people and effort involved but there seemed to be an agenda to show just how unsustainable this lifestyle is. Each man was aware that there was a clock ticking, and their eagerness to win the title before it’s too late only made them train harder.
As an outsider looking in on the sport I feel that I would know who to look out for in the future, but there wasn’t a huge amount of history revealed. Maybe other documentaries have addressed this but this is a well informed introduction for anyone with a smidge of an interest in the sport.
R: Pumping Iron (1977), Generation Iron (2013), Generation Iron 2 (2017)
L: Weight Lifting and Sport Docufilms