“David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived”: A Story of Courage Before and After Tragedy / DOC NYC Film Review

“David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived”: A Story of Courage Before and After Tragedy / DOC NYC Film Review

@Courtesy: HBO Documentaries

When people watch movies with dangerous stunts or fighting, it’s supposed to make you believe that it’s real. That is what a good stuntman or fight coordinator is supposed to do, keep it safe but look unsafe.

Most people, if not everyone, has seen or heard of the “Harry Potter” franchise. You know it’s main characters and the actors behind them but there are hidden actors that don’t get the credit they deserve. This documentary is the story of one.

@Courtesy: HBO Documentaries

David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived” is the story of Daniel Radcliffe‘s lead stuntman in the Harry Potter franchise. He had suffered a terrible accident while test filming for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” which left him paralyzed. This documentary is about his life before and after the accident and his strength through it all.

Stunt doubles, I believe, are the unspoken heroes in the film industry. They really don’t get the amount of recognition that they deserve and they are just as important as the leads. I like how this documentary shows the hard work that stunt doubles do for the film industry.

Courtesy: HBO Documentaries

From a story telling and narrative perspective, I really thought it was going to start with the accident then it would be rest of his life after that, but it wasn’t like that. It shows him as a kid and then his life on set for “Harry Potter,” which wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s about 30 minutes into the documentary before we get to the accident. I like how they didn’t do what I had initially thought, because the accident isn’t his whole life. Yeah, it was a big life changing factor but it doesn’t define him and they executed that narrative very well in this.

There was something that Holmes said that really stuck with me and I think gives a great premise to this documentary. He said “Before my accident, everything was about being cool, being a stunt man. Now, it’s about being present.” Honestly I think that sums it up, because it took courage to be a stuntman but it took even more to continue on living after the accident. That’s what the documentary shows and it’s quite powerful.

@Courtesy: HBO Documentaries

Now you’re probably wondering, did they show the accident? Should I be worried about my kid watching and questions like that. I even wondered if they would show the clip of the accident.

They did have clips of the stunt doubles practicing it while the interviewees talked about it. Then there was a clip but it cuts to black just as it happened. The black out made me unsure if it was the actual accident shot or not.

I liked how they did that though, because it makes it more viewer friendly and most of all gave so much respect to Holmes. That moment was one of the most, if not the most, vulnerable and scariest parts of his life. If I were him, I wouldn’t know how I would feel showing that to the whole world. The interviewees explain the event so well that we as an audience don’t need to see it.

@Courtesy: HBO Documentaries

We heard interviews from Holmes, Radcliffe, Holmes’ parents, the stunt coordinator Greg Powell, Harry Potter Stunt Trainee Tolga Kenan, and Holmes’ friend Marc Mailley. Honestly it surprised me that we didn’t hear more interviews from different people, but it also in a way made it more intimate. It’s unclear to me if that was the plan or not. It would have been interesting to hear from more people, like the director, but with the interviews they had told the story well.

I personally grew up watching the movies and reading the books (I am a Gryffindor). This series was my childhood. I wanted to be just like Harry and live this extraordinary life I saw on the big screen. Looking back at it now as an adult, that just shows me that everyone on set did an amazing job bringing the wizarding world to life.

Watching this documentary made me remember those times growing up. It reminded me why I wanted to pursue a career in film and television. It shows the audience that there’s so much behind the scenes that we don’t see.

David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived pic1

@Courtesy: HBO Documentaries

David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived will debut on HBO on Wednesday November 15th (9:00-10:30pm ET/PT) and be available to stream on MAX.

Grade: A

Check out more of Serena’s articles. 

Here’s the trailer of the film. 

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