Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The amazing look at Formula 1 simply called 1 (2013)

For most of its history Formula 1 racing was a deadly sport. It was so dangerous that until the 1990's it wasn’t uncommon to lose several drivers a year. Until the 1970's drivers didn’t wear seat belts so they would be thrown clear of crashes and wouldn’t be burned alive in the wrecks. It wouldn’t be until there were a number of crashes involving big names, and the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994 that the manufacturers would get their act together.

Beginning in 1996 at the Australian Grand Prix 1 takes us through the history of Formula 1 racing through the quest to keep it’s drivers alive. The 1996 crash was a spectacularly horrific crash that resulted in driver Martin Brundle not only walking away from the carnage, but running back to the pit to get his spare car to rejoin the race. The film then flashes back to the days of the great Juan Manuel Fangio in the late 1940’s and 50’s and moves us forward through the history of the sport pausing to tell a few good stories and more importantly to highlight the events that changed the safety of the sport, from the creation of the Manufacturers Award which made them strive to make faster cars, on through the development of the wings, seat-belts, and of course the crashes. We watch as the death toll goes up taking a driver a month and the drivers begin to balk at the danger, a move that lead to strikes and the events depicted in Ron Howard’s recent film Rush. It’s a story full of fast cars, fast women and lots of crashes and broken bodies.

I don’t know where to begin. Perhaps by saying that when you see 1, and you should see it, you need to see it on as big a screen as possible. Full of incredible race footage this is visually one of the best racing documentaries I’ve seen, and I’ve seen more than my fair share. This is not only a you are there film, but a you are in the cockpit of the car racing around the track film. There are several racing montages that are amazing marriages of image and music. I like the Hocus Pocus by Focus mixed with Monaco one myself, but there are several others that are just damn cool.

The history of the sport is nicely condensed down. While we don’t get everything, there is a nice over view that takes from Fangio to Senna. It the sort of thing that will give you enough background to be able to follow any discussion of the sport’s history. If the film gets lost in some odd side tales it’s okay since it gives us a flavor of what the crazy times were like in F1.

When the film started I was wondering if this was going to be some outsiders telling of the history of the sport or would they get some of the right people. They didn’t get some, they got everyone you can think of. That’s not a joke there I can’t think of any major living driver and personage you can think of that isn't here (Nigel Mansel,Damon Hill,Michael Schumacher, Emerson Fitapaldi, Mario Andretti, Jackie Stewart, Jodi Schecter, Bernie Eccleston, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Niki Lauda and on and on...) . There are so many I began to ponder who they didn’t talk to, and outside of some journalists I couldn’t think of a single person (hell they even have the wives, girlfriends and children of people who have died) It’s an amazing achievement and I’d love to see the out take interviews- when is this on DVD?.

This is a great great film. It’s a film any motor sport lover should see. Its also a film for anyone who wants to know how our cars got so safe- it all came from auto racing.

Out on i-tunes now and on other VOD platforms October 11

ADDENDUM: This is currently out on DVD and Blu-ray. This film also was on my Best of 2013 list.

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