I used to watch Formula 1. Right from the glory days of the Hakkinen-Schumacher rivalry, to Schumacher’s dominance and the emergence of Kimi Raikkonen – I’ve seen it all. I’ve also read about the great Ayrton Senna and seen some of his races on YouTube.
However, I stopped after Schumacher’s retirement and Kimi’s subsequent move to the World Rally Championship. There weren’t any larger-than-life characters left, at least for me. And I never considered the Alonso-Hamilton rivalry big enough to evoke my interest. Vettel is more like a machine than a man to me – not a character in the true sense.
I think that’s what makes Formula 1 such a compelling watch – characters. Not just Formula 1, every sport needs characters.
For Formula 1, in the 1970s, there was James Hunt v Niki Lauda. This wasn’t just a sporting rivalry. In gaming terms, if it was a First Person Shooter (FPS), this would have been a ‘deathmatch’.
And that’s why Rush, for me, is the movie of the year. So far (I haven’t seen Prisoners or Gravity yet).
While Ron Howard’s direction is a delight, what really makes every moment in the film stand out is the acting from the two leads, Chris Hemsworth (our very own Thor) and Daniel Brühl (that German guy, Frederick Zoller from ‘Nation’s Pride’ in Inglourious Basterds). Put aside the fact that Hans Zimmer has worked magic with the background score. Leave alone the eye-popping cinematography from Anthony Dod Mantle. Forget about the heart-stopping editing style of Daniel Hanley and Mike Hill, which made me feel like I was IN the race car.
To put it simply, Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl pull away from the rest of the pack to give their careers’ best performances. Whether you are a Formula 1 enthusiast or not, this is a movie that will evoke very strong emotions. James Hunt and Niki Lauda were two very different people, but put them in a race car and they become almost the same person – mad monsters looking for nothing but victory. Hunt is the brash, hot-headed monster with raw talent, while Lauda is the calculated, cunning monster striving for precision.
The fatal accident at Nürburgring in 1976, which turned Niki Lauda’s life around, has been captured quite brilliantly. His subsequent hospital treatment and his surprise return to the wheel just weeks later is stuff of legend, and it has been made to look that way.
Do yourself a favour and watch this movie. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand Formula 1 – if you understand life, you’ll understand this movie.
There is a bit of dialogue from the movie that made me whistle in the theatre. It happens after Niki Lauda makes his surprise comeback:
James Hunt: I feel responsible for what happened.
Niki Lauda: You would… but trust me: watching you win those races, while I was fighting for my life, you were equally responsible for getting me back into the car.
That’s when you realise that it’s no longer a rivalry, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a bloody race to the finish.
A very strong 9/10.
PS: Kimi Raikonnen’s made a comeback to Formula 1. I can feel the engines firing again…