You all know I deeply, deeply love motorsport. So when the opportunity to check out the newest Formula 1 cinematic masterpiece came along, I jumped at the chance! Check out my review of 'Rush', released earlier this month, with Josh Kruse (a fellow journo at Richard's F1)!
The intake heaves, urgently drawing every inch of air and oxygen into the cylinders.
The camera zooms in, past the smooth movements of the pistons, while your senses are overwhelmed by the roar of the intake.
The new Formula 1 film, Rush, is an adrenalin filled, cinematographic feast. It is a motion picture that should, and will be appreciated by fans of the sport, but you don’t have to love the world of Formula 1 to appreciate this particular piece.
Ron Howard’s Rush is set in the 1970s, two conflicting personalities progress through Formula 3 to Formula 1, where they would create one of the most extravagant and memorable seasons Formula 1 has seen. It’s a story that can literally tell itself.
Rush focuses on the infamous rivalry of Austrian and British drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt during the early 70’s. It is an era that as young Formula 1 fans, neither of us had heard and read much about, but was truly brought alive by actors Daniel Brühl (Lauda) and Chris Hemsworth (Hunt) on the big screen. The atmosphere of the 1970s racing world – no safety, loads of scantily clad women and drivers with actual (visible) personalities – was so convincing, we felt nostalgic for an time we had never even experienced.
Lauda is the man whose methodical and meticulous approach to his career earned him the success he yearned for in Formula One. Lauda is a perfectionist, involved in every aspect of the car and tunes his ride to faultlessness. Niki, unlike James, calculates and plays the odds consistently.
Hunt is the glamorous English playboy whose fearless bad-boy persona makes him irresistible to women. He, on the other hand, lives like he drives: emotionally with no holds barred and little regard for logical details like odds and risk. He is chaotic, charismatic and larger than life.
The events of the 1976 World Championship make for heart clenching watching: Lauda’s harrowing crash, his painful – truly painful – recovery and Hunt’s desperation for the title are all depicted brilliantly.
Neither driver is a hero or a villain, although the film makes you love and hate both in equal measure. These were two very different men with wildly different motives for racing who were eventually brought together by the sharing of a title and the development of a mutual respect.
The casting for Rush could not have been better. Hemsworth does a fantastic job of playing the party boy role, while Brühl’s spectacular depiction of Lauda is remarkably accurate down to the accent, earning high praise from Niki Lauda himself.
The excitement of engines roaring to life before they take on the graveyard, The Nürburgring, will send deep chills down the spines of F1 fans, as they know of the unfortunate events that occur. Although one step ahead of us, Howard makes the entire scene so tense you’ll be gripping the arm rest waiting for it to happen. Then it does, Lauda’s Ferrari suffers a mechanical fault and smashes into a barrier, the car erupting into a ball of flames as the fuel tank is punctured.
Cue Hans Zimmer.
A well-balanced mix of cinematography and musical composition make Lauda’s fiery crash entrancing to watch. You’re so absorbed by the emotional scene that’s supplemented by a dramatic orchestra it becomes easier to picture the real event.
It’s not just this scene where Zimmer’s musical talent presents itself; all throughout the film the music that accompanies it is outstanding. Not since the amazing compositions from Antonio Pinto’s work in Senna have we rushed home (pardon the pun) and bought the soundtrack.
There are times where Hollywood steps in and depicts Lauda as the villain and Hunt as the hero, but you must remember that this is a movie, not a documentary.
Of course there will be those who lived through the era who remember the events of the day, and the relationship between the two drivers quite differently. That is not the point of Rush.
What you do have is a film that brings to life the beauty of the sport, the excitement of the race and the tension of the personal drama. It gives an inkling as to why people like us crave the race weekends, why the screams of a V8, V10 or V12 make our hearts beat a flurry. It is a film about the exquisiteness of the sport that we all love, and for that Ron Howard and all his team should be duly thanked.
Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award RUSH (out of a possible five)…
RUSH is currently in national release in Australian cinemas. Check your local cinema for listing and session times.
Postscript: It is sad that on writing this piece, the news that Sean Edwards, a Porsche professional driver involved in the making of Rush was killed at Yassmin’s home racetrack, Queensland Raceway. Our thoughts are with his family, and it is a sombre reminder that even though we think the dangerous days of motorsport have past, it is still a sport that occasionally draws blood in the worst way possible. RIP Sean.