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211 Ratings

The Trials of Muhammad Ali

Directed by Bill Siegel
United States, 2013
  • English
  • English


The Trials of Muhammad Ali explores its complex, extraordinary subject’s life outside the boxing ring, from his controversial conversion to Islam to his bitter legal battles with the U.S. government over the draft.

Our take

Race, religion and politics converged in the story of an athlete whose life defined an era. This acclaimed 2013 festival doc goes deep, creating a vibrant, vital, and fresh cinematic portrait of an American legend and his turbulent times. Presented in HD.

The Trials of Muhammad Ali Directed by Bill Siegel
Trials abounds with archival riches from Ali’s pariah era, clips that show the Champ trying to stay financially solvent after his boxing ban and proving his indefatigability no matter how scorned: on the college lecture circuit, on talk shows (like WGBH’s Say Brother), and on Broadway (playing the lead, in extravagant Afro and facial hair, in Buck White).
June 14, 2016
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As a documentary, and an expertly paced one at that, it provides a happy medium between expansive legend and centralized nuance. Siegel already exhibited such skill as co-director of the Academy Award-nominated THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND (2002), and his representation of Ali as something of an activist calls back to that first film.
November 08, 2013
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Ali presented sports as theater, politics as theater, theater as theater. This movie makes you feel his radicalism all over again. Whenever athletes declare themselves the greatest, it feels somehow like a mockery of the complexity of Ali’s greatness. His progeny’s self-obsession differs from Ali’s self-regard. It’s punier. This isn’t to say Ali didn’t have a brand to promote and protect. He did. But his brand was humanity.
September 27, 2013
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