Ok, so I lose significant F1 fan points for not watching this movie sooner, and I will never let that happen again. Ron Howard’s epic take on the 1976 Formula One season gave me a reason to be older than I already am, as I was not yet born when this rivalry began between James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
Complete opposites in thinking and approach to racing, they were, nevertheless, the very fastest on the grid nearly every weekend during that ’76 season. So that’s what I told my wife who I tried to convince to watch the movie with me, as she is not the F1 fan I am. Pretty much would rather scrub the bath tub than sit and watch a Grand Prix with me, actually, as she now almost has gag reflex upon hearing F1 cars after all the Senna documentaries and YouTube videos I have streamed. But Chris Hemsworth served as a little bit of eye candy for her while playing James Hunt, a guy that was also a badass, blisteringly fast driver (and partier) who was the real eye candy for the ladies in the ’70s.
Hunt the playboy was the only driver who had the guts to drive as daring as Lauda the robot, who was so skilled behind the wheel that, as the movie points out in possibly an exaggerated way, he could sense an out of balance tire while a passenger in a car he’s never driven. So I believe that just as much as I believe that he was absolutely on a lunatic’s level of obsession about winning in F1, to the point
that he would shove a super-tight race helmet over freshly-harvested skin grafts on his scalp trying their best to grow after being harvested from the skin on his thighs.
Does this sound weird to you? REALLY weird for me, which was hard for me to believe after thinking that I used to be the kind of amateur driver that would do anything to move up in a racing career back in my way too broke to race days. Don’t think I would have done that!!! Instantly realized the fast racers in the ’70s probably had a hard time sitting in race cars with balls that big, but I digress.
During the hospital scenes after Lauda’s fiery, horrific accident at the Old Nurburgring for that year’s German Grand Prix, as well as the wheel-to-wheel battles that Howard shoots so well that you can almost smell smoking hot race tire, I found myself getting smacked on the wrist from death-squeezing my wife’s leg and not even realizing it.
In other words, a GREAT movie that may have made have brought a few more curious fans to the F1 fold. FANTASTIC – thank you Ron Howard!