11 April 2009
TYSON (Dir. James Toback, 2008, US)
Partly financed by American indie film maker James Toback and executive produced by Mike Tyson, this new documentary on the controversial sporting icon has already been criticised for its inherent bias openly shown by those involved with the production. Premiering at Cannes last year, James Toback’s personal examination of Mike Tyson’s career from his poverty stricken beginnings to his dramatic collapse as a formidable force within the boxing world is structured around a series of intimate and deeply revealing confessions rather than interviews. The absence of Toback and the direct audience address by simply having Tyson speak in his own inarticulate words creates a very surreal atmosphere but the sensible rejection of pretentious documentary tropes helps to sustain a simplicity that fills the frame with Tyson’s unmistakably bullish figure. The real fault with this documentary is that because of the refusal to depend on interviews from Tyson’s friends and family means that it is very subjective and personal. The debate concerning Tyson’s status as a contemporary sporting icon hover in the background as an after thought and are deliberately side lined so that we get a much more intimate picture of the man himself. To a certain extent, Toback does want us to sympathise with Tyson and he ensures that he presents his friend as a wounded individual and victim of the American dream.