Born Strong

It doesn’t matter about your background, the dumbbell was as heavy for me as it was for the rich kid!

Year Released : 2017

Directors : Gary Cohen and Ross Hockrow

Cast : Brian Shaw, Eddie Hall, Hafthor Bjornsson, Zydrunas Savickas, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mark Henry

When I was a child I became fascinated by the annual “World’s Strongest Man” competitions that were broadcast on TV every Christmas. I’ve watched it near enough every year since then almost religiously, with particular favourites being Jouko Ahola, Svend Karlsen and Marius Pudzianowski,now followed by current competitors Brian Shaw and Martins Licis. I just find it amazing how people can lift something that is often more than double their own body weight, it is an exceptional example of what the human body is capable of.

Anyway, I digress. I watched the 2017 competition recently, won by my compatriot Eddie Hall, and then a few days later this appeared on Netflix, so I thought why not and then looked at the IMDB votes, leading to my usual criteria being met and there we go, done.

So here is my review of “Born Strong”….

Plot

Leading up to the “Arnold Classic” Strongman competition, four of the strongest men in the world share their personal lives with the cameras and they all describe the reason for their obsession with being the best.

Amongst them are England’s Eddie Hall, who would later be crowned the “World’s Strongest Man” in 2017, taking over from the four time champ Brian Shaw, who talks about his life in Colorado. Shaw developed a big professional rivalry with Lithuanian Zydrunas Savickas, but both have the Icelandic giant, “Games of Thrones” star, Hafthor Bjornsson right behind them.

The competition starts with Eddie breaking a world record in the deadlift, but who out of the four will go on to win one of the biggest competitions in the sport?

A good sports documentary?

The one thing that the world of strongman, or rather the “World’s Strongest Man”, program doesn’t do well is revealing too much about the personal lives of the people taking part, so it was definitely a nice little bonus to get to know some of the high profile competitors. It’s now just under two weeks since that competition was televised and the only thing that I can really recall from the non-sports sections is that there was a homosexual athlete, one guy was brought to tears by his daughter’s drawing and Hafthor has developed Bell’s Palsy, but other than that you don’t get to know a lot about the 30 athletes that take part.

I always find it somewhat enjoyable to see people in a different context to how you’re normally familiar with them. For example, I’ve never been a fan of Eddie Hall, finding him a bit one-dimensional, but this documentary makes you appreciate his sense of humour and personal life. There is a particularly memorable scene in which he and his wife are discussing his weight and he starts commenting on about how it is more difficult to have sex, especially as she can no longer get her legs around him. Whilst he is describing this his wife is clearly shocked and hides away in embarrassment, but she clearly loves him and they have a great relationship.

Something that I mentioned then that I have always thought was that Zydrunas and Eddie were a bit on the large size, but this explains it fairly well as to why they get to that size and I found that aspect quite fascinating. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the moments when he isn’t self-congratulating, offers great insight that to be a great strongman you can’t also be a body builder. It is the same with Mark Henry, a professional wrestler and former strength athlete himself, offering his personal take on things.

There isn’t really a lot more to say about this, it is just a great watch.

Summary

This is a great insight into the world of strongmen and one that I found personally engaging. It is fascinating to get a look at the personal lives of people that I get invested in once a year. It gave me a greater appreciation for the four athletes in question, and also what they go through to get to the point that they are at.

It would be easy to dismiss this if you aren’t a fan of the sport and I can see why some wouldn’t like it, or even give it a chance, but if you are into athletic competition of any variety then I think that there will definitely be something there for you.

This is definitely recommended.

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