Editorials RUSH

Published on February 9th, 2014 | by Seán Ward


Rush isn’t perfect, but it’s close enough

Becoming a Formula 1 driver is a challenge. While many racers are very good drivers, few are good enough for F1, and even fewer are ever given the chance to race.

Hearing that Ron Howard was making a film about F1, in particular the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda and their fight to get to the sport, I began to run around in circles, grinning like a fool. What could be better than going to the cinema for two hours and watching how two legends (both legends for very different reasons) fought their way up through lower formulas until finding their place in F1, before battling each other to such extremes that, on more than one occasion, they nearly ended up killing each other?

But seeing Rush for the first time, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. I thought James Hunt’s (Chris Hemsworth) character was rather overdone as a stereotypical English playboy, and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) depicted as cold and humourless.

Not only that, but Hunt and Lauda’s journeys to F1 were rushed along, and when the Formula 1 cars did arrive they just weren’t filmed very well. It’s not to say the shots were out of focus or there were continuity errors or lighting equipment in shot, but the camera angles used didn’t give a sense of speed; rather than cameras at the side of the track showing the cars move at high speed (the way F1 is broadcast in real life), a lot of the shots were filmed from the track itself (something a real F1 spectator could never see) and from quite odd angles. As a result, the editing was super-fast, trying to make up for the lack of car speed. (I suspect the cars were filmed at lower speeds, so the cameras and editing had to compensate.)

Watching Rush again last week, though, things started to change. In reality, the story has been made to show-off Formula 1, so while I enjoy seeing how drivers cut their teeth in lower formulas, the majority of moviegoers won’t have the same interest. If two hours was spent showing Formula 3 and the financial deals behind F1 drives, I suspect I’d be the only one left in the cinema.

The characters began to change too – they keyword there is ‘characters’. Watching it for the first time I had expected a documentary with lots of vintage footage showing the highs and lows of racing, cut together more like a documentary (something like Senna) than a Hollywood blockbuster. But seeing it for the second time, I watched the film and appreciated Hunt and Lauda as characters that represented real life racers, and not just recreations.

And actually, watching the real Hunt and Lauda on vintage footage, it’s incredible how accurate Hemsworth and Brühl are, particularly Brühl. Flicking between one and the other, you could almost forget which one is Lauda ‘the man’ and which one is the character Lauda ‘the character’.

Will it be remembered as a classic? In all honesty, no I don’t think it will, but that’s not to say it isn’t a good film and worthy of a watch.

Yes, I still think the cars could have been filmed better (a few gear changes had a ‘change gear, add speed’, Need for Speed style to them), but that’s my biggest complaint.

Speaking of cars (this is after all a car website), while you know some cars are replicas, and others are being tip-toed around the track, it’s fantastic to see the old Ferraris and McLarens on the big screen. The playboy era looks so much more exciting than today’s world of corporate ads and sponsorship.

The acting was good, the effects were good, and the later half of the film showing Lauda’s accident was truly excellent, and fairly difficult to watch at times. When people who aren’t ‘in’ to cars leave asking “was that really based on truth?” and want to go home and learn more, you know it’s a good film.

And at the end, cutting together Hemsworth and Hunt, Brühl and Lauda, helped everyone appreciate that it really did happen – they really did fight as hard as they did, but and kept a healthy respect for each other after their careers ended.

Well done, Mr Howard. I look forward to the next one.

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