Film Review: Rush

Saturday 12 October 2013 by

Rush, Film, Movie, Poster, Ron Howard, Chris Hemsworth, 2013, Daniel BruhlThere’s a lot of nostalgia around Formula 1 for me, because it was such a large part of my childhood. So when I saw there was to be a film about Niki Lauda and James Hunt, there was no question I’d see it.

In some ways, the 1970s was the Golden Era for Formula 1. In 1976, charismatic playboy James Hunt (played by Chris Hemsworth) for McLaren, and methodical, terrifyingly fast Niki Lauda (played by Daniel Brühl) for Ferrari, became the centre of a rivalry that overshadowed the entire championship. The story has become famous, because both drivers were willing to put everything on the line – in cars that were almost too dangerous to drive.

“The closer you are to death, the more alive you feel. It’s a wonderful way to live. It’s the only way to drive.” — James Hunt [Chris Hemsworth]

By now you’ve probably heard the story – from your own knowledge of F1, from watching the film, or from hearing about the film. The safety of the cars was always in question, but the safety of the drivers was never considered of paramount importance – and death was not unusual. Lauda’s crash, in which he received severe burns and spent weeks in hospital close to death, was in a way not unique, as devastating and terrifying as it was. But it was Lauda’s reaction to it – and his fight to keep the championship – that made it so incredible.

Rush is the story of the 1976 championship, both on- and off-track. Directed by Ron Howard and written by Peter Morgan (the duo also came together for Frost/Nixon); this is the first Formula 1 film that really does the sport any justice.

Visually stunning, Rush captures the drama, the glamour and the cruelty of F1 racing in the 1970s, as well as the rivalry between Lauda and Hunt. I have to bow down to Hemsworth and Brühl for their amazingly accurate depictions – right down to the voices!

The race scenes weren’t overdone, instead grabbing the best bits of a real F1 race (for me, the noise at the start grid is one of my favourite moments) and blending them with the story. I was also impressed at how seamlessly they moved to real footage and back again.

Even if you do know the story, this film is definitely worth a watch – you still feel the tension and the thrills, you still invest in these believable characters. Ron Howard is clearly a Formula 1 fan, and that comes through in the film – the scenes are created with such precision and passion you can’t help but feel yourself becoming an F1 enthusiast too. It doesn’t even matter if motor racing isn’t your thing – this is still a brilliant film.

James Hunt ended up drinking and partying himself to a heart attack at 45. He never won another championship, instead becoming a fantastic commentator with Murray Walker after his retirement from the sport in 1979. This makes the film somehow more poignant at the end, when the real Niki Lauda talks about his relationship with Hunt, and how he felt when he heard of his death.

Niki Lauda continued to race on and off in to the 1980s, and went on to have his own airline, before becoming a consultant for Ferrari and commentator for Austrian and German TV. Lauda is still heavily involved in motor racing, and in 1993 he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Hunt and Lauda were such opposite ends of the spectrum – Hunt was the flamboyance of the 1950s and 1960s, and Lauda the start of the new era of racing; precise, technically sharp, and fierce. Their rivalry, and the story around it, captured an imagination at the time, and still does to this day. Howard does huge justice to these incredible drivers, their bravery and their drive, and to motor racing as a whole.

5 Houses

Have you seen Rush? What do you think of the film?

Meet the cast:

James Hunt is played by Chris Hemsworth
Niki Lauda is played by Daniel Brühl
Suzy Miller is played by Olivia Wilde
Marlene Lauda is played by Alexandra Maria Lara
Clay Regazzoni is played by Pierfrancesco Favino
Louis Stanley is played by David Calder
Nurse Gemma is played by Natalie Dormer
Alastair Caldwell is played by Stephen Mangan
Lord Hesketh is played by Christian McKay
Stirling Moss is played by Alistair Petrie
Anthony ‘Bubbles’ Horsley is played by Julian Rhind-Tutt
Teddy Mayer is played by Colin Stinto
Harvey ‘Doc’ Postlethwaite is played by Jamie de Courcey
Enzo Ferrari is played by Augusto Dallara
Luca Di Montezemolo is played by Ilario Calvo
Peter Hunt is played by Geoffrey Streatfield

See a full cast list on IMDB

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