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  • Writer's pictureAdéla Pavlovská

Rush – The story of an iconic rivalry

One of the best and most iconic motorsport movies is, without a doubt, Rush. But what it makes it so good?

We can find plenty of movies with a sports theme. However, the ones describing the world of Formula 1 are pretty rare. And if they exist, it is usually a bit of a flop as directors often bite more than they can chew. No wonder that die-hard F1 fans have been yearning for a good movie for years. Their dreams came true in 2013 when Ron Howard came up with Rush, a portrayer of the famous rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt, two big motorsport superstars of the 70s. Everybody was excited about the highly anticipated movie, and I was no exception. American director Ron Howard is known for many successful projects, such as Apollo 13 or A Beautiful Mind that won an Oscar. He worked on the movie with a screenwriter Peter Morgan and also the one and only Niki Lauda, who was an advisor and consultant. This and much more were the indicators that Rush is not going to end up as a disaster.

As it was already mentioned, the movie tells the story of Niki Lauda and James Hunt. They are like fire and water, their passion for motorsport being the only thing they seem to have in common. Hunt is a playboy and a party animal loved by everybody. Driving these little coffins on wheels makes him feel alive. He is well-known not only because of his off-track life but also his very aggressive style of driving that helped him succeed. Although his life seemed perfect, it was far from that. Lauda appears to be less charming and entertaining but his racing genius and intelligence was beyond everyone. He is perfectly calculated when it comes to racing. He might seem a bit stuck-up as he keeps claiming that no driver is better than him. He has a sharp tongue and has no problem with sending anyone to hell.

Both main characters meet in Formula 3 for the first time, and everybody can sense the intense rivalry between them. It all comes down in 1976 where both drivers fight for the F1 title till the very last race. But the movie isn't just a boring story about some lunatics risking their lives by driving in circles. Howard's goal was to show drivers as human beings and dig deeper into their minds. People capable of a mutual respect and real friendships off-track.

Playing a real person is obviously a difficult task not just for directors but also actors. But both Daniel Brühl (Lauda) and Chris Hemsworth (Hunt) both did a tremendously great job. Hemsworth, for obvious reasons, couldn't meet Hunt in person and had to rely on books, videos, and other sources describing Hunt's specific personality. Brühl, on the other hand, had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Lauda and it's showing. Not only he shares similarities with the Austrian superstar, he perfectly mimicked his accent and moves. Brühl's role in Rush is, without doubt, one of his best performances. I still don't understand why he didn't get an Oscar nomination for it. The actresses did a great job too, although they are not as seen as their male colleagues. Oliva Wilde as Suzie Hunt and Alexandra Maria Lara as Marlene Lauda talk more with their eyes than their mouths. Nevertheless, they are both very believable.

What make this movie so good is how authentical it is. Real cars are used as well as footage from the 1976 season. The special effects together with Hans Zimmerman's spectacular soundtrack really make shivers run down your spine. All the pieces of the puzzle fit perfectly together, making the movie full of dynamic and tension. However, it is not a biography, so it's no surprise that some scenes are a bit over the top or never happened. Also, the rivalry between Lauda and Hunt seems to be a bit exaggerated. Both drivers had great respect between each other and even lived together for some time.

The best sequence of scenes is, without a doubt, Lauda's terrible accident during the German GP in Nürburgring. This track with the length of around 22 km is known by its nickname The Green Hell. I think that the portrayal of this horrific yet iconic incident is very well made in the movie. Not just the crash itself but Lauda's treatment in the hospital is definitely not for the faint of heart as it is very graphic. You can really feel the pain Lauda was going through.

In the end, I would like to mention my favourite scene in the movie. It tells the story of how Lauda met his wife-to-be, Marlene Knaus. Lauda is supposed to attend the Ferrari party together with his new teammate Clay Ragazzoni. Lauda, however, isn't very fond of these surroundings. When a young lady is abruptly leaving the party, he asks her to take him with her. In the car, he starts noticing all the things that are wrong with it. But Marlene claims that the car has been in a service recently and is fresh as a daisy. But then, car breaks down, leaving both characters in the middle of nowhere in Italy. Luckily, another car stops by, willing to give them a hand. When two Italian men find out that the man in need is Niki Lauda, they almost lose their minds. They even let him drive their car and can't shut up about it. Marlene doesn't understand the hype as she is not fluent in Formula 1. When she is told who Lauda is, she refuses to believe it because according to her, he drives like an old man. She asks him to speed up to prove who he is. Lauda hesitates but then agrees, catching Marlene off guard completely.

In my humble opinion, Rush is one of the best movies ever made and belongs to my favourites. It's a touching story of two men who motivated each other till the very end. There are no positive nor negative characters, and it is sometimes hard to decide on whose side one should be. This movie is obviously for Formula 1 fans, but I would dare to say that everybody can find it very interesting to watch.



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