Sunday, 27 October 2013

285, Rush

I have never claimed to be 'sporty' in any way shape or form and in some ways, the same can be said of cinema (apart from movies based on American football).  Historically - sports films normally fall at the first hurdle. 

However - take an old school rivalry from the 70's & super fast cars that defied most current safety laws and you have the stunningly exciting sport of Formula 1, bought magnificently to the big screen by Director Ron Howard, who charts the epic on (and off track) battle between James Hunt and Niki Lauda in the 1976 Championship.  A Championship that saw Hunt win his one and only title and that saw Lauda a victim in a horrific fire - but still battled through to a final race showdown.

'Senna' started it all off with the documentary on probably one of the greatest drivers ever but it was just that - a Documentary - this is a movie - and what a movie!

I don't even believe you have to like or indeed know anything about F1 to enjoy this film.  Howard has captivated the essence of the drama and action seamlessly with fantastic cars, great settings and what seems like real footage cut in amongst the 70's TV visuals of the races as they happened.

For those who don't know the story - James Hunt is the playboy racer, Lauda - his more reserved, professional nemesis and in the early races easily wiping the floor with Hunt until a crash and fire that sees him carried out of his car and for most, completely written off for the season - sadly the victim of terrible burns still seen to this day.

In Lauda's absence - Hunt 'wow's' the crowds - clawing back points from the absent Niki and its these wins that spur Lauda to recover and get back in the car for the finale - that actually sees him retire from the final race that could secure him the title had it not been for terrible weather conditions.

Hunt - with victory in his sights wins the race and takes his only title - something that he claims was through skill but in hindsight - something he would never achieved had Lauda remained competitive for the whole season (but you try telling Hunt that!)

Its the characters of this film that make it a winner - superbly portrayed by Thor himself Chris Hemsworth and his racing counterpart Daniel Bruhl as Lauda.  Their on and off track rivalry shows Hunt as the womanising, drinking party boy and Lauda as the reserved professional, with a fantastic final scene at an airstrip with Lauda questioning why Hunt wasn't testing and preparing for the following season, one Lauda went onto win himself and Hunt's response "I'm just enjoying being the Champ - you should try it" something Lauda went onto do 3 times in his career and one that Hunt never managed again.

At the Indian Grand Prix this weekend, Lauda was on camera saying he loved the film - a fantastic portrayal and something he was proud of, wishing Hunt had been alive to see it and that's good enough for me.

Being born in 1976 to a dad to loved F1, I too watched these races from as early as I can remember (and still do to tis day) but this year is one I wish I'd been able to see with my own eyes - stunning, adrenaline filled bravery and determination, something that just wont ever happen again with the Health & Safety and Rules and Regulations of today's quite tame comparison but I'm sure the drivers of today would state its even tougher out there now.

Having this movie made seems to have captured the essence of the 1976 season and I'm glad it was as good as it is.  If Niki Lauda approves - who am I to judge?