F1’s movie ‘history’ inches forward

Good movies about motor sports are something of a rarity. Especially when you consider the downright cringeworthy ‘Driven’. The 2001 film came about after Sylvester Stallone’s efforts to do an F1 themed movie. It can be said that the sport dodged a bullet considering how all the racing movie cliches of soap-opera style storylines involving a hot-shot rookie, a ruthless champion and pensive looking women were applied to the world of the popular Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) Indycar series.

To this day, 1966’s ‘Grand Prix’ and 1971’s ‘Le Mans’ stand out as the example of diluting those usual racing movie cliches with dialogue that not only educated about the respective racing disciplines but also entertained.

Of course, there is little in F1 today that resembles the way it was portrayed in John Frankenheimer’s three hour labour of love that was loosely based on the three-way fight for the drivers’ world championship of 1964.

The danger, for one, is not as high and the sport is a lot more closed off to regular racing fans too due to the increased influence of sponsors and in how it is increasingly managed by the commercial rights managers.

In light of that, it is a bit of a disappointment that F1’s first big-budget Hollywood treatment since ‘Grand Prix’ has only moved forward by 10 years. However, it is a good start, as by 1976 (the year in which the film is set) the influence of sponsors – and aerodynamics, on the technical side – had made F1 a little closer to the way it is now.

Directed by Ron Howard (‘A Beautiful Mind’ and ‘Apollo 13’), ‘Rush’ follows the real-life rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt during their fight for the drivers’ title in 1976.

Howard’s previous involvement with films based on true events bodes well for racing freaks who would like to see as detailed a depiction as possible. However, Howard’s embellishments of John Nash’s experience with paranoid schizophrenia in ‘A Beautiful Mind’ also suggests that F1’s history buffs could end up being irked by ‘Rush’ if similar liberties are taken for dramatic purposes.

Nevertheless, it’s definitely a good thing that F1 is moving forward in the movie department. Admittedly, however, it would be far cooler if we could move forward by another 30 odd years. A film depiction of the 2007 and/or 2008 season is something that would, personally get me very excited.

Until such a movie ever happens, however, check out the first trailer for ‘Rush’.

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About Vinayak Pande

Journalist at autoX magazine.
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