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Set against the sexy, glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing in the 1970s, the film is based on the true story of a great sporting rivalry between handsome English playboy James Hunt (Hemsworth), and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Bruhl). The story follows their distinctly different personal styles on and off the track, their loves and the astonishing 1976 season in which both drivers were willing to risk everything to become world champion in a sport with no margin for error: if you make a mistake, you die. Written by
The James Hunt/Niki Lauda 1976 race depicted in the film, was the last Formula One event staged on Germany's notorious Nürburgring Nordschleife (North Loop), since the lap was deemed far too hazardous. See more »
Hunt receives a telephone call on his "Trimphone" which had an electronic warble to announce incoming calls, not the ringing bell heard on the soundtrack. See more »
Of course he didn't listen to me. For James, one world title was enough. He had proved what he needed to prove. To himself and anyone who doubted him. And two years later, he retired. When I saw him next in London, seven years later, me as a champion again, him as broadcaster, he was barefoot on a bicycle with a flat tire, still living each day like his last. When I heard he died age 45 of a heart attack, I wasn't surprised. I was just sad. People always think of us as rivals but he...
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The film is just over 2 hours long, but when it was over it seemed like I had been in the cinema about 30 minutes.
The film centres on the battle for the 1976 Formula 1 World Championship, and the rivalry between the Austrian "professor" Nikki Lauda and the British playboy James Hunt.
The two are depicted as enemies, but in actual fact they were good friends who trusted and respected each other on, as well as off-track. This bit of artistic licence does not spoil the film and is reasonable in order to make the battle between the two for the F1 crown more intense.
The film is nicely paced. We are introduced to both characters through their own narrative and scenes that leave the watcher in no doubt as to their background and philosophy on life.
The two are first seen in competition in 1970 at a Formula 3 race at Crystal Palace (where they have a coming together) and sets the scene for the rivalry throughout the film. I'm not sure if this is further artistic licence. The two definitely did race each other in F3, but I am not convinced as to whether this actual incident occurred.
After that we are given a whistle stop journey between 1973 (when Hunt came into F1) to 1975. We are shown the dangerous nature of F1 at the time with the Francois Cevert accident at Watkins Glen in gory detail although this does not seem like gratuitous, but necessary to bring home just how unforgiving the sport was back then and it truly was (of the top 12 points scorers in 1976, F1 cars were to claim 3, 1 ended up in a wheelchair and 1 had his career ended by a leg crunching crash).
We are then taken to 1976 and that titanic struggle for the World Crown. Only one real issue here the British Grand Prix result, but I suspect this was simplified in the interests of time.
The casting is superb. Chris Hemsworth, an Aussie, does an excellent job on public schoolboy James Hunt, while Daniel Bruhl both sounds and looks frighteningly like the Austrian. There is little room for a supporting cast amongst the drivers which is a shame only Clay Regazzoni has a part of any real substance. Peterson, Watson, Depailler, Scheckter, Andretti et al could have featured a little more I think. What did their contemporaries think of the two protagonists? The supporting cast is mainly required for Hunt Lord Hesketh, "Bubbles" Horsley and Teddy Mayer / Tyler Alexander of McLaren, while the Ferrari team principals are rarely seen.
The love angle is perfectly catered for by Olivia Wilde (Hunt's first wife Suzy) and the gorgeous Alexandra Maria Lara - of Downfall fame as the future Marlene Lauda. Both give quality performances.
The attention to detail is superb. Although the tracks are not the actual ones (for understandable reasons) the cars, the helmets, the sponsors are all authentic. The film "feels" like it's happening in the 70's.
For anyone interested in great personal stories, F1, the 70's, cars or just like to see a great film, then Rush is for you.
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