Born Strong is the latest documentary on Strongman, available on Netflix.
Unlike most other documentaries, it doesn’t follow one specific athlete. Instead it follows the journeys of Eddie Hall, Brian Shaw, Zydrunas Savickas, and Hafthor Bjornsonn, as they prepared for and competed in last year’s Arnold Strongman Classic.
The documentary is an extremely polished and high quality piece of work, with striking visuals and compelling interviews. It tracks both the physical and emotional journeys of the athletes, describing their lives and training in detail. Without spoiling anything, it’s possible that Eddie Hall had the most poignant role in the entire film. At one point he is asked why he trains strongman.
His reply is a surprisingly self-conscious discussion of his older brothers, with whom he had always competed:
“I’ve got a hole deep inside that I’m trying to fill. I’ve obviously way surpassed my brothers in strength but now I see the Brian Shaw’s and the Thor’s have replaced my brothers. I’m just trying to fill that void and I wont feel satisfied until I do.
“And this is what the obsession is. I will literally die trying to with the world’s strongest man to prove that status.”
Arnold himself also takes an interesting role. Pleasantly, he adds greatly to the documentary without really hijacking it, as someone with his level of personal energy and charisma can do unintentionally. He describes each of the athletes and explains what he sees in them. The competitor Arnold most identifies with is Zydrunas Savickas. Both grew up in countries suffering in the wake of war and oppression. Arnold experienced the terrible economic struggle in Austria that followed World War 2, and ‘Z’ grew up in Lithuania when it was still occupied by the Soviets.
Arnold speculates that training gave them both a sense of power, which was otherwise denied politically and economically. Any fan of weightlifting, strength training, elite athletics, or fascinating humans will love this documentary. To summarize- it is phenomenal, hitting all it’s marks, and everyone should find a way to watch. Check out the trailer below.