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Eva Marie Saint,
Almost in breadth and depth of a documentary, this movie depicts an auto race during the 70s on the world's hardest endurance course: Le Mans in France. The race goes over 24 hours on 14.5 kilometers of cordoned country road. Every few hours the two drivers per car alternate - but it's still a challenge for concentration and material. In the focus is the duel between the German Stahler in Ferrari 512LM and the American Delaney in Gulf Team Porsche 917. Delaney is under extraordinary pressure, because the year before he caused a severe accident, in which his friend Lisa's husband was killed.Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
While the track announcements are given in both French and English at the beginning of the race (and movie), throughout the rest of the movie they are in English only, which would not occur at Le Mans. See more »
When people risk their lives, shouldn't it be for something very important?
Well, it better be.
But what is so important about driving faster than anyone else?
Lotta people go through life doing things badly. Racing's important to men who do it well. When you're racing, it's life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting.
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Delaney - the unheroic hero (and all the better for it)
It's always the dispassionate films executed in documentary style that show us what mankind is truly capable of and consequently make us passionate. Kubrick did as much regarding space travel in 2001: A Space Odyssey, as did Wise in his portrayal of scientific method in The Andromeda Strain. When Delaney (McQueen) undramatically explains his motivation for returning to the most demanding of the GT endurance races with the plainly delivered words "When you're racing - it's life. Anything that comes before or after is just waiting" we realise that any emotional content delivered on top of the actions of such men would be superfluous, or would even detract from their achievements.
To the unfamiliar viewer, raised on the formulaic and dependable sports action drama, the tension is in all the wrong places. The start of the race - effectively a 15 minute build up to the 4 o'clock commencement climaxing in Delaney's racing heartbeat and the roar of 50 or so competition engines - has us more wound up than the sequence portraying the final lap (but only just). Similarly, the scene in which Delaney's team manager (Ronald Leigh-Hunt) orders him back on the circuit after a near-fatal accident is without the (surely obligatory nowadays?) show of defiant reluctance - Delaney is hardly the identikit Hollywood hero whom we could expect to confront authority armed to the teeth with the usual cocky dialogue. Quite the opposite. Delaney - the lop-sided figure quite unable even to cope with a confrontation with a fellow racing-driver's widow without feeling awkward - realises that, rather narrowly, he is able only to drive faster than most other professional drivers and that he has no self-affirming existence outside of the demands and constraints of the team.
For all those who believe that the heroes of this world are those who rebelliously reject such impositions on the 'free-spirited' individual - whether they be the social class-based constraints of Titanic or the intellectual ones of Dead Poets Society - the film will no doubt descend into lap upon lap of fast Ferraris and Porsches (as it did for the Time Out film reviewer). Those of us who know that mankind's most towering achievements (winning an event such as the 24 hours of Le Mans being no exception) have been constructed by relatively stunted men and women will sympathise with the character of Michael Delaney. Delaney is no hero, but is all the more heroic for it.
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