Carol Channing - Larger Than Life
"Carol Channing: Larger Than Life" is a biographical documentary that has the strong advantage of being able to use the star herself to tell her story. With someone like Channing who is truly an original, it is almost essential to get the proper idea of the person being discussed. Detailing different snapshots of her life and career, "Large Than Life" creates an almost impossibly large figure in the entertainment industry over the last century. Creating landmark roles, befriending some of the most popular and powerful figures of different generations, and casting an inspirational net over essentially all aspects of how to be star, Carol Channing is someone who cannot be explained away in one short documentary. Some of her biggest achievements were not even shown much less discussed. This could very easily lead to an unsatisfactory watching experience, but luckily "Larger Than Life" integrates just a few of her great career moments and a spectacular retrospective of her personal life.
Indeed, even as the documentary itself does little justice in showing the full scope of Channing’s career and her impact on the entertainment industry, it seems more focused on illustrating what a stellar individual she is. Sure, anyone who starts her career as a young person and continues to achieve massive success will always be defined by her profession, and often the description of such stars’ lives cast personal lives in the shadow of their careers. "Larger Than Life", however, spends much of the time discussing her love life and friendships and how they worked within her professional life, rather than the other way around. Endless compliments and fond memories from past friends, romantic interests, and colleagues pair with Channing’s own recollections to weave a surprisingly holistic look into who this legend truly is. The result is an incredibly warm and illuminating picture of a woman who lived her life with kindness, hard work, and a determination to bring joy to those around her.
Despite its many strengths, the documentary itself does still suffer from a lack of performances and strong representations of what made her so special. Luckily, the DVD is packed with bonus features that include performances and more in-depth explanations of her career and its trajectory. This provides for a stronger entertainment experience which probably should have been included in the principal documentary. Nonetheless, this is still a very thoughtful and well-executed documentary that is sure to reap almost universal admiration for Carol Channing into future generations.
"Carol Channing: Larger Than Life"