Being Evel (2015) – A Review

Being Evel Knievel documentary 2015
Being Evel

A documentary covering the live of daredevil superstar Evel Knievel. It covers all the jumps, breaks, highs, lows and legacy of the iconic figure who was worshipped by millions.

Thanks to archive interviews, news reports and file footage, along with new interviews from the people who knew him the film attempts to craft a portrait of the famed daredevil and the influence he had.

And Being Evel does an outstanding job at that.

I happened to catch this doc on The History Channel. I was somewhat surprised to see them air something like this since they appear to have become focused on airing only a constant rotation of Pawn Stars nowadays. But watched it I did and was very happy I tuned in for it.

It’s a very extensive account of Knievel’s life directed by Daniel Junge. From his small town upbringing to his gradual stunt antics to being the most revered and successful people of his era. There were a lot of things I learned about his early years. Most are only familiar with his white jumpsuited persona, so it was enlightening to learn who this guy was before his big fame hit.

Once it does the movie illustrates his series of escalating dangerous motorcycle stunts, along with the anticipation and tension that went along with each of them. With personal reflections and the actual footage it manages to convey just how big a deal Evel had become. And just what kind of punishment he was putting his body through. Some of the accidents of him crashing is just as compelling to watch as it was then.

One really amusing portion is his famed Snake River Canyon jump. It wasn’t so much the jump itself as Evel strapped into a rocket attempting to jump that canyon river, but the melee that went along with the huge crowds during it. It’s something I never had heard about. In fact those stories are just as fascinating as Evel’s actual stunt.

Another nice thing is that the movie doesn’t just paint Evel as any kind of perfect hero. He was certainly not that. The darker side of his temper, pompous attitude and adulterous lifestyle isn’t avoided and it gives a much more rounded impression of who he was.

A really entertaining and enlightening doc.


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3 Responses

  1. I loved this documentary too. I'm a little too young (just) to remember the hype and Wembley jump but it was definitely part of my childhood growing up in the UK. I had the wind up stunt bike by the IDEAL toy company and there were definitely a few bikes (push bikes) dented and scratched trying to recreated his jumps with friends…well more like 12 toy buses than real ones but in our young minds is was same. It was great to see the life of Evil Knievel in this documentary warts and all…a real roller coaster of a life. If you can find it I'd recommend the BBC show "Richard Hammond meets Evil Knievel" (Wiki link below) in which Richard Hammond (from Top Gear) meets and interviews Evil Knievel shortly before he passed away in 2007. It was one of the last times he appeared on camera. Thanks for the review too…great as always 🙂

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Hammond_Meets_Evel_Knievel

  2. Nathan says:

    Good review. I'll check it out.

  3. Nick_H says:

    I was at Wembley for the bus jump. The place was absolutely packed out and it's hard to convey to people today just how big an American icon he was and he had a huge British following. Every kid loved stunts and the 70s was the ultimate era for them.

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