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Pavarotti (2019).Pavarotti (2019)

Director Ron Howard's documentary film about the world's most famous tenor doesn't quite qualify as hagiography, but it comes close. For example, there's no mention of his tax evasion case, his philandering, or that he had an infuriating reputation as the "king of cancellations." So, there's a lost opportunity here for a more subtle and complex film. Nonetheless, it's very easy to enjoy learning about the life of the legendary Luciano Pavarotti (1935–2007). There is Pavarotti's childlike love of life, gregarious nature, extensive humanitarian work, and larger-than-life personality. And then, whatever the criticisms about his later popularizations with pop music, there's the voice and the music. Howard gathered over 50 interviews for the film, including Pavarotti's two wives, his personal assistant (and lover) Madelyn Renee, his three estranged daughters, colleagues like Plácido Domingo, his managers, music critics, collaborators like Bono of U2, etc. As you would expect, he also makes extensive use of archival footage of operas and concerts, along with still photography. And as Pavarotti spoke perfect English, he gets to tell his own story in much of the film. It's worth noting that the film was made with the cooperation of the Pavarotti estate. By the time he died from pancreatic cancer, Pavarotti had sold over 100 million records and left an estate of $474 million.

Dan Clendenin:

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