The seasoned filmmakers that brought you such acclaimed films as A Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon, The Damn United and Cinderella Man, among many others, have taken on a genre that has proven elusive in Hollywood, indeed in global cinema history, that of an engaging movie with auto racing as a backdrop.
What does it tell you that the best racing films were made over 40 years ago! And even then it demonstrated how hard it is to combine the speed, glamour and excitement of that world with a compelling story. Steve McQueen’s “Le Mans” (1971) and John Frankenheimer’s “Grand Prix” (1966) were superb in capturing the racing atmosphere (indeed the latter winning three Academy Awards: Best Effects-Sound Effects, Best Film Editing and Best Sound), but critics rightfully felt both fell short on story.
In “Rush”, released by Universal, two-time Academy Award-winner Ron Howard delivers the exhilarating true story of a legendary rivalry that rocked the world. During the sexy and glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing, two drivers emerged as the best: gifted English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth – “The Avengers”) and his methodical, brilliant Austrian opponent, Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl – “Inglourious Basterds”). As they mercilessly clash on and off the Grand Prix racetrack, the two drivers push themselves to the breaking point of physical and psychological endurance, where there’s no shortcut to victory and no margin for error.
Now out on DVD, you’ll see what theater-goers saw- the cinematography is great – intimate and brilliant, the ‘feel’ of the era is palpable, the racing scenes are exciting, the music is brooding, compelling and exciting by turn and most of all, the casting is superb.
Extras: “Ron Howard: A Director’s Approach.” Blu-ray adds a six part segment, “Race for the Checkered Flag: The Making of Rush,” with “Peter Morgan on Writing Rush,” “The Making of Rush — Finding James and Niki,” “The Light of Speed and Filming F1,” “Around the World in One Location,” “Fashion and Styles of the 70′s” and “The Making of Rush — Ron Howard: A Director’s Approach”; three-part segment, “The Real Story of Rush” with “Meeting James Hunt and Niki Lauda,” “F1 Take 1: F1 Racing and the F1 Car” and “The Rock and Roll Circus”.
Brian Grazer, who has produced “Friday Night Lights”, “Blue Crush” and “Cinderella Man”, knew the challenges of making a film with any kind of sports backdrop, but was intrigued with Peter Morgan’s script.
“There are certain paradigms of story that appeal to me. One is mastery. I like sports stories about mastery. And within a sports story of mastery, I like are the themes of heartache, the pain, the passion that becomes engendered when you see someone struggling from an early point in their career,” explains the Beverly Hills-based veteran producer. “In “Rush”, the two lead characters compete and make each other better. It gets to the point where you feel the struggles both go through”.
Grazer credits his partner at Imagine, director Ron Howard, to help capture that on screen.
“(It) is really hard to make any sports movie a success. They have to become emotionally transcendant. For example, “Rocky” for me is not a movie about boxing. It is a picture about a universal theme of self-reliance. It is hard to find an emotional vehicle, a character or characters that can be emotionally transcendant. So I think that Ron is very good at doing that because he is so humanistic. I think the two lead characters of “Rush”, Niki Lauda and James Hunt, had that multi-dimensionality within them for Ron to mine that and find a story that goes beyond Formula 1”.