A new documentary premiering at Sundance pulls back the curtain on the man behind Superman's iconic cape.
“Superman/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story“Charts the story of the late actor's meteoric rise to fame as the Man of Steel, his tragic horse-riding accident that left him paralyzed, and his rebirth as a disability rights activist. Featuring extensive archival footage and interviews with Reeve's inner circle, including his children Will and Matthew And Alexandra.
“You might think you know Superman, or the lawyer, or whatever version of Christopher Reeve you think you know, but then you see him as a father,” Will Reeve, Christopher Reeve's youngest son, said in TheWrap's Sundance Portrait feature and interview. Studio provided by NFP.
Reeve's children were intimately involved in the documentary, giving the filmmakers unrestricted access to personal archives, while also offering their poignant perspectives. Alexandra found seeing private home video footage very moving.
“One of the cool things is that they unearthed a lot of archival footage. There are excerpts from the original Superman audition, and interviews with my dad in the ’70s and ’80s when we were still little kids,” said Alexandra Reeve Givens, Reeve’s daughter.
“Seeing him at the height of fame and even old home movies that we didn't spend a lot of time with — suddenly we discover these moments and see them on the big screen. All of that woven together was really beautiful and powerful,” she added.
The film also pays tribute to Reeve's wife, Dana, who cared for him after his injury and became an influential activist in her own right before her death from cancer.
“The most emotionally moving parts of the film are the interviews and hearing them talk about their experiences with our father and Dana,” said Matthew Reeve, Christopher Reeve's eldest son. “It was important to step back and let the filmmakers do their job to do historical justice properly with that element of objectivity.”
“What I'm moved by and very proud of is the way the filmmakers tell my mom's story, and the way my mom Dana appears in this documentary, because she's very much as you would expect in our lives,” Will Reeve said.
“As much as I am honored to be Christopher Reeve's son, I am also a son Dana Reeve“Any time I can tell her story and share with the world what a unique force she was makes me so proud,” added Will Reeve.
According to co-director Ian Bonhot, capturing the complexity of Reeve's journey in one film was a major challenge. But with unrestricted access to the family's personal archives, the result is an intimate portrait that shows his towering successes and private struggles.
“The suspense isn't one particular moment, it's the totality of it – how do you distill the complexity of a person, their entire life, their great moments and their tragedies into 90 minutes?” Bonhot said.
By highlighting Reeve's unexpected transformation into an activist, the film aims to reintroduce new generations to the 20th-century icon who learned the true meaning of heroism.
“When he became severely disabled, he realized he could harness his superpowers to do good and affect change in the world,” said co-director Peter Ettedge.
“Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story” premieres this week. The film is a sales title and is seeking distribution.
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