This weekend, I got myself out to see Ron Howard’s new movie, Rush, about the epic (yes, really) competition between James Hunt and Niki Lauda in the 1976 season of Formula 1. And I have to say, it’s fantastic.
I make no secret of the fact that it’s the stories of the racing world that fascinate me, more than the technology or the cars or the speed alone. And the story of Hunt and Lauda is one for the ages. While in real life they didn’t have quite the enmity portrayed in the movie, they certainly were opposites off-track who pushed each other to great feats of daring on-track.
The movie does a few things very well, in my opinion.
First, the opening montage of the start of the German Grand Prix in 1976 is just the tiniest bit overwhelming and scary with its quick cuts showing the explosion of noise and metal parts as the cars race off the line. For me, that correctly set the expectation, which then informed how I viewed the racing in the movie, that those cars were borderline out-of-control and 100% dangerous.
Second, the movie gives a good look at the supreme highs and the deepest lows of the sport. And while I’m not sure it totally answers the question of “why on earth people are willing to die to win?” (because at that time, Formula 1 lost two drivers a year), it does portray the commitment, excitement, and passion of people who love racing—from the mechanics, to the team owners, to drivers, to fans.
Third, it’s visually gorgeous. The cars, the tracks, the beautiful people—and even the accidents—are incredibly rendered. While I caught a glimpse of a corner close-up that I could have sworn was Road Atlanta (or Lime Rock, I’m not quite sure), everything looked correct and true. But don’t believe me, take the thumbs-up from the racing world (e.g., Racer Magazine’sreview).
I think everyone should see it, because it just might go a ways toward explaining why I find racing so fascinating, insane, compelling, and entertaining. Will you go?
(image courtesy of RushMovie.com)