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Rush: A Great Film or Just A Great Story? 

Rush will be released in Germany on October 3rd

During the 1976 Formula One racing season, the world-famous rivalry between Austrian world champion, Niki Lauda, and British racer James Hunt came to a climax. Ron Howard’s Rush follows the lives of Lauda (played by Daniel Brühl) and Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) in the years up until and including the 1976 World Championship in Japan.  It is already being discussed as a strong contender for the upcoming Academy Award season, but has Ron Howard made a great film or simply been allowed to document a great story?

Howard is famous for epic blockbusters such as Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind. His films often receive multiple Oscar nominations - winning Best Director at the Oscars for A Beautiful Mind  - but sometimes I feel that, like his depiction of James Hunt in this new feature film, his films are more style than substance.

Rush is undoubtedly a well-directed, good film, but I am not sure it’s a great one.

In the years following this great F1 rivalry, many filmmakers have wanted the chance to bring this amazing story to the screen. I believe part of Howard’s talent is in knowing a good story when he sees one and gaining the rights to bring it to life on the big screen. Both Niki Lauda and James Hunt lived incredibly interesting, eventful and at times tragic lives in the 1970s and the tale of their fierce competition to best each other is highly fascinating, even for those (like me) who find Formula One frankly dull and pointless. Like Sofia Coppola’s Bling Ring earlier this year, it is hard to see how a decent director could not make an interesting film out of this material.

Hollywood’s new blue-eyed boy? Photo: DPA

Once again, I am not saying that Rush isn’t a good film. Howard’s greatest strength is probably creating beautiful pieces with wonderful special effects and moving soundtracks. The detail that has gone into the recreation of the races and scenes from 1976 is incredible. At moments we are shown actual footage from the World Championship that year and the resemblance is uncanny! The races take place all over the globe, in Italy, Germany and Japan to name but a few and Howard has filled this film with beautiful landscapes. The most memorable moment of the film, Lauda’s horrific crash on the German track, is amazingly shot whilst retaining its devastating nature.

Furthermore, Howard has chosen two incredibly talented young actors two portray Lauda and Hunt, both with strong and complex personalities. Brühl proves himself once more to be one of the best German-speaking actors of his generation and perhaps one of the best young actors in Hollywood. Chris Hemsworth proves definitively that he is far more than just a pretty face with an impressive body. Both create characters who are very real and very sympathetic. The relationship between them is undoubtedly the most interesting aspect of this film; polar opposites who cannot stand each other and yet who understand each other better than most people ever could.

I greatly enjoyed Rush. It has drawn to my attention one of the most powerful and moving moments in sporting history. It is visually stunning and contains two strong performances. It remains though, a great portrayal of a good story and not merely a good portrayal of a great story.

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