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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

1: Life on the Limit


Narrated by: Michael Fassbender
Distributor: StudioCanal
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: E
Release Date: 17 March 2014

1: Life on the Limit (1 hr, 51 min, 36 sec) is a documentary film, directed by Paul Crowder, which details the history of Formula One from its post war beginnings to the modern form. The film is narrated by Michael Fassbender and has contributions from all the surviving drivers of importance, including Jackie Stewart, Jacky Ickx, Bernie Ecclestone, Max Mosley, Emerson Fittipaldi, Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher.

I am not a great sports fan, but the fame of many of the drivers is such that there were few names that I did not recognise. The film could have gone a number of ways, but it cleverly intertwines the stories of various sports rivalries with a closer look at the evolution of safety in the sport, represented by the two visuals which bookend it. The film starts with a fatal crash and ends with crashes from which the drivers are able to walk away from.

It’s a fascinating story, not least because it exposes the power structures which existed within the sport. Like much of our world, the sport started with technology which, if you were unlucky, may be the cause of your death. As advances in speed grew, advances in safety were almost wholly ignored.

The main body of the film examines in a graphic way, as many of the crashes have not been shown before, the drivers who sat and raced in what became little more than bombs on wheels, detailing the appalling cost this took on the drivers. There is a bit at the beginning when the film compares them to spitfire pilots, which I initially thought was a bit over the top, but you soon come to realise that if you raced you knew there was a chance that you may not survive or if lucky, just be horribly scarred by flame. It’s not an enticing prospect and one which most of us would avoid if possible.

I don’t think the film really got underneath just why they did what they did. There is a lot of talk about competitiveness, about it being like a drug, but it took a long time for drivers to start to question the idea of whether a sport where you can die is worth engaging in.

I would like to say that watching the film was a treat, even for a non-sports fan. Certainly it holds a lot of footage, rare and otherwise, which looks pretty pristine on a Blu-ray, it’s just difficult to think in those terms when you have sat and witnessed so many real deaths.

There are two extras on the disc; the first is the theatrical trailer (2 min, 19 sec) and an interview with the director Paul Crowder (23 min, 32 sec) wherein he discusses how and why the film was made.

It’s a fascinating documentary, well worth a look even if you don’t follow the sport.


Charles Packer

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