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An absolute gem for all petrolheads
pbogdanovic13 October 2013
This is the first time I write a review for any movie, showing how much I did appreciate this documentary. It is excellent in portraying the era of Formula 1 in the 60s, 70s and early 80s, not from a technical, but rather from a human perspective.

It gives great insight into lives of former champions, some dead, some still alive, while at the same time narrating advances in both thinking and technology which enabled Formula 1 to become much safer nowadays.

I thoroughly enjoyed all the original footage, as well as the excellent soundtrack and editing which boost the atmosphere of the whole movie. Excellent job and a must see for any Formula 1 fan.
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1 car, 1 life. F1 safety evolution.
Gareth Heycock26 October 2013
Just to clarify that I would have rated this excellent documentary at 8.0 but marked up to 10. 1 out of 10? Really? As an avid fan of f1 during the golden area I found this an epic watch. Brundles amazing escape in the Jordan at the start had nothing to do with fortune and everything to do with the evolution of the sport over many years. Rewind to the birth and beginning of F1 and get ready to be shocked, awed and inspired as we progress through generations gone by. Reliving the harrowing moments where legends are lost sends shivers down your spine and makes you appreciate the levels of in car safety reached in the modern era. If, like me, you dig the engineering as well as the racing you will enjoy this doc.
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Excellent, not quite perfect documentary
jjcseattle21 October 2013
This was an excellent documentary. I have recommended it to people with the advice, "you know a documentary is good if you will find it interesting even if you aren't interested in the subject matter". I think almost anyone would find this documentary very interesting.

I was a child of the 70s and remember seeing F1 races on TV, and remember the big names of the era from my childhood watching. This brought all of that back and filled in a lot of the details about the decades from 1970-2000 that I have learned as an adult.

The timing of the film was very well executed, not spending too long in any period but also including important events.

The voice-over was well-paced and measured, and had just the right intonation to induce suspense at the right times.

The effects in the soundtrack captured racing mechanics at its best. The music soundtrack captured the progression of time well.

My only criticism (and why I give it 8 and not 9 or 10 stars) is that they put just a bit too much focus on the safety of the sport... at times it feels like it is a documentary about racing car safety and not ... racing. Still, it doesn't err too far in this direction, so I still feel it is worthy of an 8 for any racing fan.
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Excellent perspective on those who are no longer among the living
SquirrelCutter22 November 2013
Some nitwit previously called this unwatchable. What a maroon. I thought it was very well done, better than "The Killer Years" and just about right up there with "Senna." I guess you have to be a fan and have the balls to man up and shed a tear or two for your heroes in the sport.

Nicely put together, very pertinent interviews with the players, and it even almost made me not want to poop on Ecclestone the way I normally want to.

Some footage I've never seen, a bunch of talk I never heard before from various stars and important folks in F1, and just plain a worthy use of leisure time.

Two racing fuel stained thumbs up, fo sho.
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Pulsating look into events which shaped modern day Formula 1
skalwani2 March 2014
Often many an unenlightened fan dismisses the notion of a documentary as being boring, especially one to do with racing. "Au contra-ire" my skeptical friend, I heartily recommend this to you, for it has all the ingredients of a regular movie - excitement, passion, true events, story of individuals willing to go past the edge, push the envelope and draw us into their piercing journey. One gets to learn about many of the sports legends, their views and how major events have shaped it. We get brief lessons into the history of F1 and for any fan - as well as newbie to the sport - this is mandatory knowledge and helps us appreciate to a high degree the ultimate of man & machine together and what they face.
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Inspirational, politically clever with outstanding archival footage.
stanwilksmovies21 March 2014
1: Life on the Limit is brilliantly narrated by Michael Fassbender, who is able to keep hold of a compelling story.

The archive footage is outstanding, the political upbringing of the sport's safety, to the dangerous cars and tracks and the legends who changed the game is brilliant!

People who are unfamiliar with Formula 1 will still be able to find enjoyment, and possibly inspiration from the film. Without a doubt, the most interesting parts are the safety and the relationship between James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

It is familiar in places, due to strong performances - the film indulges you into the world of Formula 1 racing and it's deadly legacy.

The film's moral question still holds to this date. 'Would you take the safest car, or the car that is dangerous but drives the fastest?'.

1: Life on the Limit is well directed, brilliantly narrated with a certain charisma that is truly outstanding. The archival footage is breathtaking, and the interviews of legendary racers are inspirational.

It follows in the lines of Rush' and Senna' which are both exuberant films. 1: Life on the Limit has a definite place in Formula 1 entertainment.
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The moment of impact
andyhise18 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
After cramming a dozen of the most hoary, hackneyed clichés into its first sixty seconds, I thought uh-oh, here we go. After F1 received the Fisher Price treatment in RUSH, a film which did the sport no real justice at all, it's amateur hour again. Stand by for a 90- minute Sky Sports style montage: fast cars, girls, loud noises, blah blah.. All fast edits, flash camera-work, no authenticity, no substance.

But I was wrong. After the pomp and circumstance of the first minute, '1' slams to a halt, literally, as Martin Brundle's car rises and violently jackknifes through the air and into the Armco at Adelaide '96. Silence .. Surely he's got to be dead. But F1 fans know he's not. In a perfect scene-setting moment, Brundle's familiar voice cuts through the air, tells us he shouldn't be alive today, and we have our context.

And then we're launched back in time, into what turns out to be a journey through F1's horrific middle years, and how a passionate group of drivers and team owners struggled to reduce the death count in a sport which had all-too-often become - at its grisly height in the Seventies - the sporting equivalent of a snuff movie.

Motorsport fans love a good crash, but when a driver is burnt to death, or virtually sliced in half, or decapitated - all of which happen in '1'- it ceases to be entertaining. The film teaches you how Stewart, Fittipaldi and Lauda played their roles in making the sport safer, and how Bernie Ecclestone of all people perhaps made, with his insistence that Prof Sid Watkins (may he rest in peace) rule every race from a medical standpoint, the biggest contribution. Max Moseley, too. I hadn't appreciated all of this.

Nor did I know that Rindt died when he insisted on removing his own rear wing to make the car go faster. Or how much of a superstar Cevert had become before that stomach-churning crash at Watkins Glen which made his fellow drivers cry with the horror. Or indeed many other things, and I am a life-long fan of F1 since 1977, the year of Tom Pryce and Kyalami, although that insane, terrible and unforgettable moment isn't featured in the film.

'1' is wonderful. At times, if you're a hardcore, long-time fan, especially if you experienced the sport through the driver-killing Seventies like my brother Mark and I did, it might put a few tears in your eyes.

It gets compared to SENNA, which is a seminal documentary in any genre, never mind sports documentaries. But I'm not comparing the two. '1' has its place, and in my view it joins SENNA as the second great F1 film in recent years.

It doesn't go for controversy, although there is naturally some finger-pointing. If you're a circuit-owner from the 1970s, or a relative of Colin Chapman, you might not like what you see here. Jacky Ickx, too, is singled out as a reckless Neanderthal who ignored safety and went against the rest - although Ickx magnificently defends his case in a relaxed, rather charming interview, without appearing too self-satisfied.

In fact, Ickx's charismatic and likable turn is suffused with the glow of a man who walked the tightrope blindfold, and didn't fall. The predominant vibe from the interviewees who were around when the others were dying so often ... Fittipaldi, Andretti, Ickx, Stewart, Surtees, and of course Lauda ... is that they are The Survivors. As Andretti says, he dodged the bullet.

That the bullets found so many of the greatest drivers who ever lived, is what gives '1' it's constant air of tragedy.

There is dread when a driver, such as Clark, Cevert or Rindt, receives the in-depth treatment, in the knowledge that the film makers are simply giving us the measure of men who, ultimately, would die horribly at the wheel of their car.

Some may find '1' ghoulish. I found it a fitting memorial to men both living and dead who are among my sporting heroes of all time.

A world-class line-up of interviewees, more or less everybody you'd want to hear from (except, perhaps, Prost), filmed and edited tastefully. Nobody outstays their welcome. It's a brisk film punctuated by invigorating music and the ear-shattering, primal noises of an F1 circuit. And yes, it sounds amazing on your home cinema.

The men who play their parts in the relative sanitisation of the modern-day sport are reduced to a few interviews early and late in the movie, but although that very sanitisation is clearly where '1' is headed, it also knows that that's not where the story or the entertainment truly lie.

Kudos to the film makers for not producing an F1 retrospective for the YouTube generation.

But, briefly, you're brought to the near-present day by a genius quip from the quick-witted Robert Kubica, near the end. Cue much laughter.

It's a film for me and my big brother, as we were there back in the day. Monza 1977, the year before Sid Watkins arrived, and Petersen died, we sat in that big long old stand among the Tifosi, and watched Andretti beat the six-wheel Tyrrells. We - like a million other men of a certain age - remember those days, obsessively following a dangerous sport in which anything could happen, and which has now become relatively predictable, sanitised and desperately, almost calamitously, commercial.

Maybe death is entertainment, after all. Perhaps that's what we all have to recognise. The Romans had their gladiators, and we had ours. But the Formula One gladiators who died, all died doing something they loved - right up to the moment of impact, the sport to which they had devoted their lives quickly and brutally sending them on their journey into the next one.
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Just watched this for perhaps the third time. Outstanding.
craigosenior20 February 2017
For a film of this genre. Sport documentary? It is truly brilliant. I am not an F1 fan, but I am a petrolhead, I prefer rally and motorcycle racing, even touring cars, because the action is always closer and consequently more interesting, but I appreciate than Formula 1 i the pinnacle of motorsport. This film/documentary has everything: a history of the sport, an insight into the constructors, the drivers and the men behind the organisation too. It is a fascinating watch. I could go on and on. Maybe I will add to this later, but for now: it made me gape, it made me laugh and it made me cry. What more could I ask for?
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Interesting but unfocused documentary
Scaramanga9 July 2014
Coming in the wake of Senna and Rush, F1 has been spoiled in recent years. Despite production starting before either of the former films, 1: Life on the Limit is the last to be released, and suffers a little because of it.

I had the privilege of seeing this film screened at Silverstone during the British Grand Prix weekend, and what an arena to see it in, surrounded by Formula One Fans of all ages!

The film tells the history of Formula One, from its beginnings right up to the 2012 season, (Sebastian Vettel is credited as "3 time world champion"). Bookended by Martin Brundle's horror crash at the Australian Grand Prix in 1996 where he ran back to the pits and simply got in the spare car to take the restart, the documentary struggles to find the story it is trying to tell. Is it the evolution of safety, or a straight documentary about the history of Formula One?

As a story about the strides made in safety, the story seems to finish with Brundle's crash highlighting that it was just 2 years after the death of Ayrton Senna, but then goes on for a while after that, leading more towards it being aimed as a story about the history of F1.

As a history of F1, it doesn't offer much more than a long-time follower of F1 wouldn't know, but does offer little morsels that may be unfamiliar to some people, such as how Bernie Ecclestone became one of the most influential people in world sports, or Jacky Ickx, the driver who rebelled against the drivers union when they attempted to strike over safety concerns.

But with 64 years of history to cover, the documentary does not really have the time to go into much depth over the stories and personalities involved, and comes across as a little shallow as a result.

Having said that, I would recommend this film to anyone with a passing interest in F1 as a springboard to other stories within F1 and adding context to the names of legends that are still revered by F1 drivers and fans alike, especially after seeing Rush, but possibly before seeing Senna as the Senna section of this film does leave you feeling a little short-changed.
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The F1 years
Prismark1015 November 2017
Having previously seen Grand Prix: The Killer Years; there was little that was new here. We had more on the Lauda and Hunt rivalry in 1976 when the championship came to the wire. We find out how Ecclestone managed to wrest control of F1 by purchasing the worldwide television rights. I doubt safety in road racing would even today be a priority if it was not for Max Mosley who placed a heavy emphasis on safety issues.

The documentary narrated by Michael Fassbender starts with a spectacular crash involving Martin Brundle in the 1996 Australian Grand Prix. He hardly received a scratch and ran towards the race doctor to get the OK to resume the race in the team's spare car.

It would be a more enthralling film if you maybe have not seen similar documentaries but it does have crash bang wallops which excites the audience, the trouble is that in the early days those crashes were lethal.
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Should be in every Formula 1 enthusiast's must watch list!
diogomanuel28 October 2017
Through this documentary we understand the evolution of F1, its safety rules, the influence of business and sponsorship, and of course we learn about some of the legendary battles that made this sport loved all over the world.

However, having watched it and enjoyed it, in the end I got the feeling that the producers must have realized that they would end up with a very long documentary (truly rich F1 history!) and to prevent that they started to speed up the story right in the years I wanted to see the most - the Ayrton Senna ones...

In spite of that, it does present F1 in a clever new perspective that not many documentaries have shown us already and because of this those who like F1 or car racing in general will surely enjoy watching it.
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Life on the limit... Good commentary ?!
robjohnson-6555915 August 2017
Just a few words about "Life on the limit". I am watching this again on television as I write this.

The information in the film is mainly very good as long as you are not too pedantic about some of the additions that are not from the correct years, as stated in other reviews here. They are done to give effect, however misguided or done in error.

My problem with this film is the commentary. Who and why did someone think that Michael Fassbender was the right person to provide the commentary ? He has the most boring, monotone, uninteresting drone that I can say that I have ever heard narrating any documentary or film. This film required a clear, "animated" narration, not the disappointing dirge that it has.

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Extremely boring
El_Jefe20 September 2016
I know a little about Formula 1, but I like racing (MotoGP in particular). This film is well produced, considering they're working largely with archive footage from old television broadcasts. The interspersed interviews with prominent figures are fairly interesting, but it never drew me in.

This strikes me as a decent documentary for people who are already fans of Formula 1, but if you're just a fan of racing in general, then it's just really not very interesting. For example, Senna's death is covered in perhaps two minutes, and you feel no real connection with it at all. Senna was probably the most beloved racer in F-1 history, yet it's just sort of casually mentioned how much impact his death had on fans.
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