For those of you in the United States, this film has already been released and is available on iTunes, in the UK ‘1’ will be released in the Spring of 2014. I saw ‘1’ during one of a select number of screening which took place as part of the London Film Festival and here are my thoughts on this film.
A documentary in the traditional sense (using talking head interviews from a variety of drivers, team personal and journalists) ‘1’ delves into the history of F1, charting those dark times where many lost their lives in pursuit of the World Championship.
Much of the films focus is on the 60s and 70s and the tragedies which took place during those early decades of Formula 1, and the attempts of those drivers such as Sir Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi & Niki Lauda to improve the safety standards of circuits.
Although much of the focus is on those drivers lost within this time (with particular attention placed on Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt & Francois Cevert) the film also takes a positive look at some of the races and moments which are enshrined in the history of the sport, such as a detailed look into the Monaco GP, and an insight into Colin Chapman and some of the iconic cars he created.
As with Senna, the quality of footage does vary purely based on the footage that was available from that time. The race action is interspersed with interviews from drivers from all different eras of the sport (including Lewis Hamilton & Jenson Button). These interviews also provide a lot more insight as to some of the events which took place in those times (i.e., up until seeing this film, I was not aware that Max Mosley was actually racing in the F2 race at Hockenheim which tragically took the life of Jim Clark in 1968).
For me, as a fan of Formula 1 since a very young age, and one who was not around to see any of these moments from the 60s and 70s, watching ‘1’ provided a very good insight as to the dangers those drivers faced in the early days of the sport, especially as I am someone who likes to learn about those times and appreciates the World Champions of that era.
‘1’ predominantly focuses on this period, and gives mention to elements such as the Hunt v Lauda rivalry, which most of you will have probably seen in ‘Rush’ so there is a sense of familiarity with that element of the story (complete with James Hunt sound bites, and some very funny moments form Lord Hesketh), but in the post film Q&A from Director Paul Crowder confessed to not having seen ‘Rush’ or even ‘Senna’ as he did not want these works to influence his film in anyway (incidentally, ‘1’ has been in development for around 7 years).
There are elements of the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s with feature within the film as well, such as the weekend of Imola 1994, and a lot of focus on Martin Brundle’s Australian GP crash from 1996, but a lot of the detail within these periods is glossed over, such as Gilles Villeneuve and the Prost v Senna rivalry, which Paul Crowder said was due to the length of the film (although some of what ended up on the cutting room floor may make it to the DVD version).
Ultimately, ‘1’ is a very entertaining and informative with elements of humour which make it very enjoyable to watch, although some of the crash footage and those moments of tragedy do bring a tear to the eye.
If, like me, you appreciate the history of Formula 1, I highly recommend seeing this film on its release. For anyone who is quite new to the sport, I would also suggest seeing this film as it shows how the sport has evolved over the years and serves as a reminder that those lost before their time will always have their place in history.
For those of you in the US who have seen this film, please share your thoughts. UK viewers who have to wait until Spring, I will say that it will be worth the wait.