Jacob Richardson | 27/10/2019

A perfectly serviceable documentary, that feels unadventurous in an age of non-standard documentaries. 


In this documentary, Ron Howard tackles the incredible life of the famous opera singer Luciano Pavarotti. The documentary follows Luciano from his humble beginnings in Modena, to his auditions to be a real opera singer, and to the heights of international stardom and immense fame. 


Perhaps we are too used to incredible documentaries about perfectly dramatic historical figures. Perhaps Amy and Diego Maradonna have made the typical documentary format to staid and stale for us. But nevertheless, Pavarotti feels like a missed opportunity. 


One doesn’t envy Ron Howard, who must have faced an immense challenge in tackling Luciano Pavarotti. After all, the man was on top of his game for 60 or 70 years, and while there is a definite rise, there is no fall worthy of cinematic proportions.


That being said, Howard does a lot to make this still interesting. We get great snippets of old footage of Pavarotti performing in Modena, and incredible behind the scenes footage of his meetings with legends like Bono and Princess Diana. He uses photographs to interesting effect, and is blessed by the fact that there is a significant amount of great footage available. 


Howard also smartly uses the three tenors footage to finalise the piece and provide a mid-point. It is incredible footage, and helps raise this above what it frequently feels like. However, it is also few and far between, and in and amongst this incredible footage is a huge amount of content that feels both intimate, and old and outdated. It creates a feeling that we are watching a 60 minutes piece, rather than a feature film. 


In the end, Pavarotti feels half-baked; a documentary that never truly feels exciting or engrossing, but does a good job of informing. 


Pavarotti works, but doesn’t break any moulds, in the telling of this extraordinary man.