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Parents' Guide to


By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Docu traces opera icon's rise; some swearing, war images.

Movie PG-13 2019 114 minutes
Pavarotti Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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Howard deftly lays out how an elementary school teacher created thunder loud enough to make the world take notice as he flashed across the sky. In doing so, Pavarotti becomes much more appealing to mainstream audiences than you might think for a heavily subtitled movie about an Italian opera singer. Howard starts by making him human, revealing "Luciano" before he becomes "Pavarotti." Viewers see his goofy sense of humor, his insecurities, his loneliness, and his beginnings as a boy who wanted to be like his father. The audience gets a feel for his terrific ambition, and credit is given to those he trusted to get him to the top. (Future marketing geniuses should take notes.)

But for opera fans, the film lacks depth. The audience doesn't really get a feel for the man himself. The interview footage with Pavarotti is limited, and the blanks are filled in by wives and lovers, managers and colleagues. He still feels like he's up on a pedestal, untouchable; perhaps that's because all of the interview subjects, including his wives and children, have put him there. As a mainstream reveal of what made opera icon Luciano Pavarotti surpass "good" to become one of the greats, Pavarotti satisfies the itch, but for opera fans, this film on the tenor's life only scratches the surface.

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