Luciano Pavarotti, what do you know about the man? If you’re like me, someone who grew up in the ’90s then you have a tertiary understanding him. He was an incredible artist and he left quite an impression on the world. So director Ron Howard has taken a camera to the world of this man in Pavarotti.
Pavarotti is a simple narrative and that’s what Howard hopes to convey. The simple truth of this self-professed simple man. We follow Luciano from his youth to his final days. We start with his career with his father and how he learned so much from the elder Pavarotti.
The Pieces of Pavarotti
There are several stages showcased in Pavarotti’s life throughout the film. We mainly see how he understood the mechanics and techniques of Opera. It was a science to him but at the same time it was also art and he melded the two together to create something outstanding. And because of this, he wrapped everyone around him in a kind of spell. His wife, his three daughters, and the many, many women who fell in love with him. He would fall in love with some of those fans as well but the film barely touches on that topic. Howard prefers to show the symbol instead of the man and thus we only skim across the sins of Pavarotti.
This is a shame because I believe that to fully understand someone is to see them warts and all. The best way to describe the film is that it is a love letter to Pavarotti and as such never dives as deep into the man as it could have. We see how the fans saw him, a living god. His love of music, of food, and of people is infectious.
There are several key moments in his life that are showcased during the film. One moment that stuck with me and brought me to tears is the moment the Three Tenors were formed during the 1990 FIFA World Cup. This moment in history was captivating to watch and since I was only 2 at the time I didn’t understand its potency until now.
The film goes further into his charitable exploits and in doing so we begin to see the true force of nature he was. When Pavarotti set his mind to a task whether it be charitable or work-related he could not be stopped. One example of this is Bono who recalls when he was constantly bombarded by calls from the Tenor. Luciano was looking for a song from the Irishman for his annual event Pavarotti & Friends. This led to Luciano showing up at Bono’s door with camera’s in tow. This felt like Luciano had strong-armed Bono into writing a song and with a camera in his face Bono couldn’t say no to the song or the performance.
It was interesting to see all this unfold but as the narrative of the film unfolded Howard repeats a lot of the same beats. Pavarotti was a great man, a spectacular artist, a man loved by all etc. When the film hits its third act it feels half an hour too late. Sadly a lot of the potency of the emotional journey has been lost due to the bloated runtime of 114 minutes. It mirrors how Pavarotti’s fans felt as he become more commercial in his later years.
In the end, Pavarotti is a compelling story about one of history’s greatest artists. For fans, this is a must-see but for everyone else, it’s not something you need to rush out to see.
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