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DIRECTOR: ron howard


REVIEWER: nick tonkin


Featuring never-before-seen footage, concert performances and intimate interviews, filmmaker Ron Howard examines the life and career of famed opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

Pavarotti, directed and co-produced by Ron Howard with the co-operation of Pavarotti’s estate, is a is a thoughtful and good-natured documentary film of the life and influence of the operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti.


Beginning in Pavarotti’s early years, we learn of the key influence his father had upon his life, who as a tenor himself, introduced the young Pavarotti to singing. We see his career begin and the trajectory change as important new people enter Pavarotti’s working life such as Joan Sutherland who took him on tour to Australia and taught him his breathing technique, and later different managers and promoters that would prove instrumental in assisting his rise to worldwide fame.


The film also considers the man’s family life and the effect of his work, fame and the choices he makes upon his wife and children. We see this through early family archive footage and present day interviews with his children and his first wife who recount their experience and feelings over this time. This is broached by the film in a considerate and deferential manner, judgement isn’t passed by the film, and nor does it pass that to the audience to decide either. Pavarotti’s shortcomings in his family life and interpersonal relationships are considered gently and moved on from, placing them in the timeline of his life, between the achievements and milestones.


Pavarotti provides a look at the man’s life and influence and in that aspect it certainly succeeds. It is conventionally told, and with kindness. Interviewees recount their experiences with the graciousness afforded by time and aren’t pressured into the unpleasantries. The live music footage of different key performances of Pavarotti’s career show the depth of his talent and the heights he managed to achieve.


Pavarotti is a heartwarming trip filled with moments that share his passion for singing that those familiar with his life and music and newcomers to his work will enjoy. 


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