WHY 'FORD V FERRARI' COULD BE AN AWESOME, PURE, MOTORSPORT FILM
It Stars Academy Award Winners Christian Bale and Matt Damon
This morning we had one of the first ‘Oscar bait’ films debut its first trailer, and the 150 second teaser certainly didn’t disappoint. The film In question is ‘Ford v Ferrari’, positioning itself to be the film to beat this autumn in terms of the awards circuit as well as the box office.
The film stars Matt Damon (In his first film in two years since ‘Suburbicon’) as Carroll Shelby, who is contacted by Henry Ford II to build a car that can beat Ferrari in the 24 hours of Le Mans, the toughest race in the world still to this date. In his attempts to defeat Enzo Ferrari, Shelby enlists Ken Miles (Christian Bale), a British racing driver and a long-time friend of Shelby, and through their perseverance they managed to create the Ford GT40.
The duo attempt to defeat Ferrari first in 1964, but fail terribly. The car was fast, but incredibly unstable and dangerous. In 1965 it was similar circumstances, with all of their cars retiring once more with Ferrari taking yet another 1-2-3, however in 1966, it looked like they had a real chance, and in the end did the impossible and defeat the Italians. It was a 1-2 finish for Shelby American in 1966 with the duo of Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon won from Miles and Denny Hulme.
This is a wonderful story that many motorsport fans know as one of the greatest achievements in motorsport history, and it is looking like this one could be good.
It is often rare that we find a good film based around motosport, with the occasional gem such as Ron Howard’s ‘Rush’ coming to our attention, but nine times out of ten they’re just mediocre and just focus on the racing. Here are some reasons why I think this one will be different:
THE DIRECTOR, JAMES MANGOLD, IS ON A ROLL
James Mangold is a man on a roll. ‘Ford v Ferrari’ is Mangold’s latest film after the highly successful ‘Logan’, which broke genre barriers and managed to get him nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Elsewhere on his CV includes the Johnny Cash biopic starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon ‘Walk The Line’, and the Western ‘3:10 To Yuma’ starring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe. This guy knows how to make a film.
And judging by the trailer, it looks like he is sticking with the core motorsport fans on this one, telling the story which deserves to be told on the big screen, rather than making this a major mainstream film just for the popcorn entertainment.
ONE OF THE BEST CASTS OF THE YEAR
And then we move onto the cast. Christian Bale, playing Ken Miles, is hot off his fourth academy award nomination for ‘Vice’, where he played former Vice-President Dick Cheney, in one of his best roles of his career. Meanwhile Matt Damon, playing Carroll Shelby, hasn’t been on the big for quite some time, since 2017, and hasn’t been in a fulfilling role since ‘The Martian’ back in 2016, which was directed by Ridley Scott and earned him his fifth Academy Award nomination. The duo could be a match made in heaven.
Meanwhile the supporting cast isn’t bad too. The film also stars Jon Bernthal, a highly underrated Harvard educated actor who has starred in films such as ‘Wind River’, ‘Widows’ and the Netflix TV show ‘The Punisher’. And then we have Tracy Letts playing Henry Ford II himself. The actor has received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and multiple Tony Awards in his career, and this could be an awesome performance as well.
THE BELOW-THE-LINE TALENT IS REMARKABLE AS WELL
Marco Beltrami, The Composer For Ford v Ferrari
Primarily, we have the composer, Marco Beltrami, a long-time composer with James Mangold. The Italian-American composer has composed for films including ‘3:10 To Yuma’, ‘The Hurt Locker’, The last two Die Hard films, ‘A Quiet Place’, ‘Logan’ and more. If it can rival Hans Zimmer’s score for ‘Rush’, I’m game!
We also have the Greek cinematographer Phedon Papamichael who is somewhat of a veteran in the industry despite being aged just 57. Some of his films include ‘Knight & Day’, ‘Nebrakska’, for which he earned an Academy Award nomination and ‘The Monuments Men’ to say the least.
And finally the editor, Michael McCusker, was mentored by David Brenner, who was Oliver Sotne’s chief editor in his films. McCusker’s CV includes ‘Walk The Line’, ‘Knight And Day’, ’13 Hours’ and ‘The Girl On The Train’, and like many people who worked on the film, has also been nominated for an Academy Award.
THE BUDGET IS MASSIVE
‘Rush’ had some amazing racing sequences in it, and its budget was a mere $35M, but ‘Ford v Ferrari’ reaped the treasure chests of Fox before it was handed over to Disney and has a massive $100M budget. Sure, that isn’t quite the level an action film these days have, however for a film like this (speciality), it is huge. With this sort of money, I’m sure Mangold was able to do whatever he wanted, so expect some amazing racing sequences with the real cars, which brings me onto my next point.
THEY FILMED AT LE MANS
When dealing with such an important moment in sporting history, it is difficult to capture the true essence on the big screen without betraying the loyal fans, however in this film they’ve tried everything to get it right.
They mainly filmed in various locations in the US, including California and New Orleans, but for the racing sequences that will take place, they actually filmed on Le Mans.
Now this is probably the closest thing we’ll get to a Le Mans film that is up there with Steve McQueen’s ‘Le Mans’ back in 1971, which was way ahead of its time, but it sure will be interesting to compare the two films. Whilst McQueen’s mainly focused on the blood-pumping action, I think this one will combine the great things about that film and add an emotional standpoint with the characters.
THEY BUILT THESE CARS FOR THE RACING SEQUENCES
OH, AND THE TRAILER IS AWESOME!
I've always been skeptical about motorsport films. For me they've never quite been able to capture the true essence of racing, and for me, whilst Rush got close, it wasn't quite my cup of tea. However this, this looks bloody good!
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So what do you think? Will this film live up to the hype and be able to tell the remarkable story of the 1966 Le Mans? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.