1 - The F1 DocumentaryNovember 07, 2013
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: F1.
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1 - The F1 Documentary
Sure, football started with leather helmets, hockey goalies had no facemasks and baseball players took fastballs to the head. But Formula One drivers started racing in exploding gas cans so dangerous that the drivers wore no seatbelts -- by design -- so that when they crashed they hoped to be thrown from the car and not be burned alive in the inevitable fireball. Fans of the sport since its last fatal crash in 1994 will be chin-on-the-ground shocked to see the impossible tolerance of flaming death that was Formula One for the fifty years prior.
The filmmakers present an insightful story told through the words of the courageous drivers who lived to tell about it as well as the far too many who didn’t.
Unlike the carbon fiber cars of modern F1, prior cars were fiberglass and, for the amount of protection they provided, gas tanks might well have been made of glass. Crashes from the ‘70s and ‘80s are so unbelievable to watch because the cars disintegrate on impact, fire is everywhere and the rescue team is nowhere to be found. Sometimes cars shatter and explode so ridiculously that it looks like bad TV show special effects – until the film reminds the viewer that the driver was killed, fans were killed or both.
The film’s most heartbreaking footage is of driver David Purley struggling in vain to free his friend Roger Williamson from an overturned, burning car while incompetent and apparently indifferent track marshals stand idly from a safe distance. By the time Purley runs across the track and back, dodging the traffic from the continuing race, his friend has died.
“1” also devotes considerable time to the James Hunt/Niki Lauda rivalry that complements the excellent treatment it received in RUSH. Too little time is devoted to SENNA but the film provides a pleasant surprise or two, notably the story of Bernie Ecclestone’s egalitarian offer to split the television rights equally between the other nine teams for the same price he paid for them.
Clever editing keeps the film moving and gives the viewer needed time to recover from the more emotional scenes. The only sugar in the tank comes from the condescending soundtrack that matches song lyrics to the emotions or metaphors that the film already adeptly conveyed.
Any fan of SENNA or RUSH will gain a greater appreciation of those amazing stories and all Formula One fans should learn about, or perhaps remember, the bravery and determination of the decades of drivers who fought to change a sport that was dying to kill them.
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