Friday, April 19, 2013

Ron Howard's RUSH: Will It Be One of the Rare Breed?

For as popular as motorsport is domestically and internationally, one would expect there to be a long list of quality motion pictures depicting the excitement that brings fans to watch race after race. Sadly, this is not the case.  The vast majority of films about motorsport are poor at best, and sometimes downright awful. It seems that too often directors get caught up in trying to have exciting crashes and forget that the most important thing that a film can do is tell a compelling story.  The Sylvester Stallone vehicle DRIVEN is the perfect example of this flawed approach to the subject.  To much time and money was spent depicting cars launching from the race track in spectacular ways, and too little was spent on telling a plausible tale.

When I heard that Oscar Award winning director Ron Howard would be directing a film about Formula 1 entitled RUSH, I was filled with excitement and dread. Howard is a truly talented film maker who has directed films in many genre with a human touch. The interviews with Howard about the process hinted that he was taking his subject seriously, but in the back of my mind -- as an F1 fan -- there was the underlying fear that this would be yet another spectacle film and not one that focused on story.  F1 is filled with compelling stories, and I thought it would be a shame if a modern F1 film failed to capture some of the sport's magnificent history.

Then I saw the first trailer for RUSH...and all my fears melted away.



RUSH focuses on the 1976 rivalry between drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.  Lauda had been World Champion in 1975, and would win the title two more times before his retirement, but 1976 was a year of struggle and a near fatal accident. Niki's story alone would make for a compelling film, but add to the seriousness of Lauda's season the playfulness of James Hunt and you have a combination of elements that could make for a wonderful film. Hunt's party boy attitude is legendary and when one of my favorite drivers -- Kimi Raikkonen -- wants to race incognito in non-F1 events he has been known to use James Hunt as his nom-d'fun.

You can see the real footage of Lauda's accident in this short piece:



And you can catch a glimpse of Hunt's wild personality here:



If you are wondering what racing films are worth watching, here is my list of 6 or so racing films that are worth your time (in no particular order).


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