History has an abundance of stories about people who have shaped the world as we know it. Books and films are here to resurrect these remarkable men and women’s lives, whose stories would otherwise be lost over time. Such is the case with Alexander Cooper’s biopic, Sandow.
The titular character is Sandow The Magnificent, from Prussia. As a young lad in the 1880s, Eugen Sandow (Timo Kervinen) dreamed of one day being enshrined as one of the magnificent statues he sees in museums around the country. He dedicated his life to bodybuilding and transforming himself into the statues he admired with his good looks and finely chiseled muscles.
As an adult, Sandow traveled the fight circuit and handily defeated all those who challenged him. His supernatural skill and physique would catch the eye of Florenz Ziegfeld (Olivier Maigniez), who convinced Sandow to travel to the United States, touring as a strongman. With fame came all the trappings: women, booze, and eventually drugs.
“…transforming himself into the statues he admired with his good looks and finely chiseled muscles.”
Along the way, Sandow would meet Launceston Elliot (Alexander Cooper) and Blanche Brookes (Tiffany-Ellen Robinson). Elliott hired Sandow to be his physical and conditioning coach as Elliott would represent England in the first Olympics. Blanche, in turn, becomes Sandow’s tough and long-suffering wife.
Cooper’s tale follows Sandow’s career worldwide, his quest for fame and immortality, and his creation of a chain of fitness clubs/gyms across the U.S. and Europe. Of course, Sandow’s worst enemy is himself.
As a biopic, Sandow falls in line with the structure of many standard biographical narratives, both positive and negative. If you love history and are particularly fond of the turn of the 20th century, you may find the movie interesting. But like many biopics, it leans more toward showing us the events of an individual’s life versus letting us know the deep inner-working of that individual’s psyche.
"…Sandow himself was the father of the modern fitness craze."