Evel Knievel is a legend – the man who didn’t believe in fear and whose reckless stunts made him a hero for kids in the 70s, an absolute star among adults, and an irresistible playboy in the eyes of women. After hundreds of stunts, the ones gone wrong as famous (or even more) as the ones that actually succeeded, Knievel managed to cheat death numerous of times, only to be defeated by illnesses at an old age.
Exploring the real man hiding behind the mask of Evel the legend is what director Daniel Junge tries to achieve in his documentary Being Evel. A trip along memory lane, the film follows what went behind scenes during all those famous stunts that still live on in collective memory. Revisiting such moments as the 1974 rocket-powered leap over Snake River Canyon in Idaho proves to be every bit as exciting even now, decades after the events happened for even today his idea seems as crazy as it did back then. However, as every good documentary, this one starts from early on and looks into its subject’s childhood, aiming to provide some sort of an answer to what turned little Robert Craig Knievel into a reckless man who wouldn’t stop until he is filthy rich and world famous.
Being Evel is a really thorough exploration into the life of the motorcycle star, not sparing even the darkest details from his life, the less glamorous moments that show the ugly face of fame. Often shocking, some of the things Knievel did definitely do not suit a man who is considered a “hero” by so many, yet his legacy lives on – and quite frankly the documentary manages to explain why this is so.
A lot of people make an appearance, sharing their memories of life with him, including his two wives, his three kids, his friends and publicists, journalists and writers. It is through them that the audience manages to get a greater insight into Robert – the man. However, even with all those sources in hand, completely understanding Evel, America’s motorcycling hero, is still not quite attained, some part of his character still remaining a mystery. Probably in order for a person to live on as a legend, he needs to keep with him that little piece of mystery even in after-life, allowing his legacy to live on.
Being Evel is released nationwide on 9th October 2015. This is part of the Thrill competition in the 59th London Film Festival.
Watch the trailer for Being Evel here: