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Filmmaker Alex Gibney followed Lance Armstrong for four years with the intent of chronicling his return to cycling after retirement as Armstrong tried to win his eighth Tour de France. Unexpectedly, Gibney was also there when Armstrong admitted to doping, which resulted in the film being retitled from "The Road Back" to "The Armstrong Lie." See more »
Fascinating Example of How Filmmakers Can Become Implicated by Their Subjects
THE ARMSTRONG LIE is a fascinating documentary. Shot over a period of four years, it purports to investigate the oft-repeated claim that cyclist Lance Armstrong was a cheat, and that every single one of his Tour de France wins were achieved by taking drugs. Alex Gibney's narrative begins as a defense of Armstrong's behavior, but as different elements of the truth emerge, so the filmmaker has to keep readjusting his position. Gibney is obviously a fan of Armstrong (as many people still are), but as the seamy details of what the cyclist did in order to win his races gradually emerge, so the filmmaker gradually understands how wrong-headed he has been give his unquestioning support. Armstrong emerges as a thoroughly unsavory character, pathologically unwilling to acknowledge the truth about himself, and always looking to manipulate the media so that he emerges in a positive light. Even his so-called 'confessional' interview with Oprah looks like a deliberate attempt to rescue his reputation. As the narrative unfolds, so Gibney gradually comes to understand the truth about his subject, and realizes to his cost that much of the film has unwittingly helped to obfuscate that truth, portraying Armstrong instead as a man more sinned against than sinning. It is only right at the end that Gibney admits the truth of Armstrong's motives, and how Armstrong himself has deliberately duped the filmmaker. As a result THE ARMSTRONG LIE is a film that is more about media manipulation than anything else, revealing just how persuasive - and dangerous - a person Armstrong actually is. There's no guarantee that he might not manage to clear his reputation in the future, despite what he has done.
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