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"The Armstrong Lie" (2013 release; 122 min.), originally intended to document the comeback of Lance Armstrong in 2009 after a 4 year absence from the sport, instead is now the chronicle of the astonishing fall from grace by Armstrong, leading to his lifetime ban and stripping of his 7 Tour de France victories. As the documentary opens, Lance is talking to director Alex Gibney just hours after Lance has confessed the Big Lie on the Oprah Winfrey show on January 14, 2013. The documentary then goes into depth as to how Armstrong was able to get away with the Big Lie for so many years, while also looking back at some of his major accomplishments, most notably his survival of almost fatal testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brains in 1996, and his subsequent return to professional biking and winning the Tour de France an unprecedented 7 consecutive times. The documentary also gives insights as to why (and how) Armstrong came back in 2009, and doing an extended one-on-one interview with Armstrong in June of '13 to confront him in depth with all the facts and allegations.

Several comments: first and foremost, more than one person interviewed made this comment: "the doping was bad, but the abuse of power was worse", and "it's not about the doping, it's about the power". Indeed, by now it is well documented that in the 1990s, all of professional biking was immersed by doping, EPO in particular, very similar in the way baseball was immersed by steroids at that time. "A generation of riders used EPO", comments someone. Most of them were caught, but not Armstrong. How? By massive intimidation (some say "bullying") and very advanced doping techniques, as it turns out. It wasn't until after his comeback in 2009 that many finally dared to speak out, most notably former teammates (and disgraced dopers themselves) Floyd Landis and Frankie Andreu. It is the latter and his wife Betsy who are most damaging to Armstrong. How? Just watch! Yet despite all that, we also see Armstrong doing good, with his never-ending battle against cancer through his Livestrong Foundation, raising hundreds of millions of dollars and giving hope to even more people. Which makes all of this even more of a Greek tragedy.

As an aside, the documentary contains great "behind the scenes" footage of the 2009 Tour de France comeback. Watch team manager Johan Bruyneel go ballistic when Alberto Contador goes attacking from a group containing his team mate Armstrong. Priceless. I don't know how well the documentary will play for audiences not particularly interested in professional biking. Having grown up in Belgium, I am a lifelong fan of the sport, and I found this documentary riveting and the 2 hours just flew by. This movie played briefly last month at my local art-house theatre here in Cincinnati and I couldn't wait to see it. The screening I saw this at was not particularly well attended (only a handful of people). Doesn't matter. This is a must-see documentary, even if you don't care for professional biking or the Tour de France, as it is a fantastic study of the fall from grace of someone who used to be an icon in today's society. "The Armstrong Lie" is HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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on February 16, 2014
Watching Lance Armstrong justify his use of performance enhancing drugs was interesting and somewhat convincing. His argument boils down to "everybody's doing it, so I'd be a fool (and a loser) not to." But seeing how he lied with such conviction, over and over again, and how he trashed people and wrecked lives, while interesting, was sad and rather depressing, perhaps because we've all had to deal with guys like this at one time or other. It's all about them, and if someone gets in the way, they're regarded as nothing more than road-kill that doesn't even warrant a glance in the rear-view mirror. Armstrong seems like a sociopath, albeit a rich one. He may be banned from competing, but he's made his millions, and this documentary gave me the impression that Mr. Armstrong has no self doubt and no regrets. Yes, this doc is about biking competitions, but it's really a character study. I enjoyed it, although I do think it runs a little bit too long.
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on May 22, 2014
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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on November 20, 2014
As an Austinite of some years, I remember how the city held this favorite son to its bosom, with messages of encouragement chalked out on the streets of every neighborhood. Even Former President Bill Clinton sported the jaunty yellow LIVESTRONG wristband in full Cat-Daddy endorsement of Armstrong's message and courage in the face of cancer.
And this movie makes you realize that this was a bad dude. Armstrong not only lied to the public, government bodies and corporations from which he received money, but assiduously tried to destroy his friends. Maybe after watching this, if possible, you'd still go get a beer with this guy, hear his war stories (Lance is a great raconteur and communicator) and frank admissions, but never for a second forget his transgressions. He should probably be charged with perjury.
One of the most telling scenes of the movie centers around his failed Tour De France comeback in 2009, and back at the hotel Lance suddenly realizes he won't win, and might just settle for a "podium position," then turns to the camera and apologizes for ruining the documentary. Maybe Lance was addicted to the race to fame, but it seems like he thought he was just doing what we expected of him.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon February 25, 2014
Like many of you, I was a complete Lance Armstrong fan. I was receiving chemo and radiation therapy for breast cancer in 2004 at the height of Armstrong's fame. I proudly wore one of the first 'Live Armstrong' yellow bands, and one of the research projects I was involved in was funded by Live Armstrong. It wasn't until 2010 when the rumors of Armstrong's cheating and doping became too much to ignore that I finally admitted my hero was a cheat.

In this documentary, Alex Gibney follows Armstrong on his comeback to the Tour de France. Along the way we follow Armstrong as Gibney films everything he can. This started out as a positive spin and ended up as the truth spin. Two hours and three minutes of the lies, then the truth as Armstrong sees it. The people he hurt and lives he destroyed. We meet everyone from the Italian physician who fashioned the doping that was not traceable, to the cyclists involved and the trainers and everyone but Armstrong's family. I wonder how they deal with this mess. What do they think of their father. He spun the winnings so many times that he actually came to believe he won Le Tour honestly. Why everyone was doing it, doping. It wasn't the doping as much as the abuse of power. The constant lying, the constant cheating.

The documentary is well done, featuring Armstrong admitting to his doping, but at the same time saying he won those seven yellow jerseys honestly. All of his medals, all of his trophies have been removed. Any trace of his winning has been removed from Le Tour history. The mistake he made, he says was to return in 2009 for the last race. People were after him, and many were bound to get him. We hear from those people, and at the same we hear from Armstrong refuting any cheating claims. The lives he destroyed from his bullying tactics is apparent with many of the people interviewed. Armstrong did not have to be so vindictive. For ten years he tried to beat down his opponents, and his detractors, and he won. In the end it is Armstrong who looks the fool. He is being sued by various organizations for hundreds of millions of dollars. He can no longer compete in any bicycling races, he is looked at as a cheater. The Live Strong organization withdrew any connection to him. What is left for Lance Armstrong?

We follow Armstrong from his cancer diagnosis through the end of the tour in 2011, and finally his moment of truth with Oprah Winfrey. We believed his lies, but no more. I have no pity for Lance, he deserves whatever comes his way. It will be difficult for anyone to believe in heroes from here on, what a lasting legacy.

Recommended. prisrob 02-25-14
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on July 26, 2014
This movie was well documented, thorough, and well organized in how it presented the information to make their case. The only thing that bothers me is the way everyone keeps saying Lance Armstrong destroyed the sport of cycling. The sport destroyed itself, Lance Armstrong was just a major player and made the lie so big it could not be contained. Corruption ran from the head of the cycling organization right down to the people who filled water bottles and got towels for the racers. They all knew. Many of the people calling for Armstrong's head were themselves either cheaters or the spouse of a cheater who had been caught and punished. Only after being caught did these people speak out again Armstrong and they seemed more determined to get Lance for his ruthless attach against his accusers than they seemed to be concerned with trying to clean up the sport in general. As I watched this movie it seemed as though all of them were inside some little bubble of self deception that none of them seemed to recognized. One thing is clear, no matter what Armstrong says or does for the rest of his life, no one will believe him. Example, even when he confessed, people still claimed at least part of what he was saying was a lie.
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on July 5, 2016
Very very well done. Seems fair - as fair as it can be for such a controversial person. I admired Lance before - I read his book and admired his tenacity and will to survive. I felt that his talents and determination led to supreme hubris - and few of us should judge (even though we do). Everyone's character and façade would be tested under this type of limelight - and if not that way, then another way. Granted, there are many people who transcend their darker side and are true heroes. I'm compelled to give Lance kudos for finally telling the truth. His long history of strident, forceful, denials must have made it almost impossible to confess. It's never to late to do what is right. Question his motives, but regardless he subjected himself to the consequences of his actions. And make no mistake he's paid a VERY high price - in terms of money, losing his medals, banned from the sport he truly loves, and finally crushing criticism and condemnation which few people could endure. All his training may have prepared him for these moments, and not winning the TDF.
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on June 29, 2015
This was fascinating to me for a couple of reasons. First, the filmmaker clearly started to make one kind of movie (about the comeback of 2009) then had to change directions as the evidence of cheating was gushing out in a tsunami over the next few years. I find that very intriguing, from an editorial standpoint. The filmmaker expresses how he felt being lied to directly to his face for the initial period of filming. I think he (the filmmaker) responded to this turn of events pretty well, considering the planning that goes into making a film of this scale. He makes very good use of the pre-revelation footage, and you can see how effortlessly the lies come out of everyone. It's disgusting, but fascinating, Like a train wreck.

Secondly, I was fascinated by how unremorseful the cyclists of the Postal Team are. Post-confession, they gleefully recount tales of the doping, sounding quite pleased with themselves. They still see themselves as rebels or cowboys, not privileged well-connected cheaters with zero moral fiber. I know that Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis have both earned heaps of well deserved public scorn, but at least they seem to have a modicum of shame. Whereas Hincapie and others are positively cheerful. The cheaters, amazingly, even seem to float the idea that they would have won without the cheating. Too bad - you can't have it both ways! If you were that good, why did you have to dope? That's the whole problem with cheating. We'll never know. It's interesting to navigate this terrain with a tween who is into cycling.
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on April 19, 2016
Kinda like a documentary. Narration of the story. Very interesting and revealing. Throughout the picture, it appears that Lance is finally telling all and confessing all, but in the end, he would not acknowledge his disclosure of drug use in a hospital room with witnesses. How can anyone watch any cycling and not still think all of them are doping. He claims it was o.k. because everyone was cheating. So, he was the winner of all the cheaters.
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on April 30, 2014
I admired this man more than most and when the poop hit the proverbial fan I was one of the most disappointed. This film is brilliant due to the fact the the filmmaker set out to glorify Armstrong but, in the end, had to do that which is right and portray him for the egocentric that he is.
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