HAVING already taken us back to the reality of the seventies in Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon, director Ron Howard returns to the decade again to bring us the “true story” of the feud between Formula One drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
Formula One fans will remember the 1976 season, covered by the BBC in short highlights programmes, usually on Sunday afternoons, as the one which saw Hunt chasing 1975 World Champion Lauda for the title, right up to the final race in Suzuka, Japan. Lauda was involved in a serious crash at the German Grand Prix at Nurburgring, leaving him with severe burns and needng extensive plastic surgery to his face. He only missed two races, but that left Hunt within catching distance of the World Championship.
The film manages to capture the tension and danger of life in the world of Formula One in the seventies, showing many accidents, with Lauda pointing out that they have a one in five chance of dying in every race. The glamorous, playboy lifestyle of Hunt is shown in stark contrast to that of the Austrian banker’s son Lauda. Chris Hemsworth, currently playing Thor in the Marvel Comics films, portrays Hunt with an uncanny accuracy, and Daniel Bruhl, a German actor used by Tarantino in Inglourious Basterds, but best known to me as the young violinist rescued by Judi Dench and Maggie Smith in Ladies in Lavender, is equally convincing as the Austrian Lauda. Other roles are taken by mainly British actors such as David Calder, Stephen Mangan and Natalie Dormer and Olivia Wilde as two of Hunt’s conquests, and the screenplay is by Peter Morgan, writer of Frost/Nixon and The Queen.
Music is written and supervised by Hans Zimmer, and the soundtrack includes evocative rock anthems at high volume to accompany the loud sound of the roar of engines. The use of CGI is seamless, with the race footage appearing as though taken from contemporary film, something which cannot be the case, especially for the close up shots which seem to be inside the engines.
Rush is a thoroughly entertaining journey back to 1976, and with other historical dramas based on true events, even if you know roughly what happened, it is good to see it examined in detail.