TL;DR – An exploration of a pioneer of racing
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
There are whole worlds out there that I had no idea existed or no idea of the complexities involved. One of those worlds is racing and specifically the F1. I know it exists, the basic rules, even many of the races and racers. However, I know very little about its history or the people that shaped. Well, today I take steps to fix that with a look at the life of Juan Manuel Fangio.
So to set the scene, we open in on Balcarce, Argentina as a voice-over lets us know how specialised being a top F1 racer is. It is here where we get a sense of just who this Juan Manuel Fangio is and the power his legacy has over the sport and racing in general. We start back in 1941 at the height of the WW2 where tiers were hard to come by, but he scraped it together and in 1947 was sent to Europe in Galliate, Italy which became his European base as he raced around the world.
As well as being an exploration of Fangio’s life, it is also an exploration of the early history of the F1 given how integrated he was in the worlds of Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes, and the whole Italian racing world. He also lived through some of the big changes in the sport, changes in cars, changes in teams, changes in how the sport is played.
The documentary is ordered more or less in chronological order, while taking journeys into different parts of racing, for example, the impact of weather. We jump between archival interviews with the man himself, conversations with people who knew him back in the day, and also the greats of the sport. This mix gives the documentary a feeling like we are seeing the same events but from different vantage points. We have the words of the man himself, the neutral news reports, the friends looking back fondly at the past they lived, and those in the sport that look back to a history that they idolised.
If there is one theme that threads its way throughout the film it is the intersection of life and death when going at high speed. This is a sport where people race at high speeds along tracks with tight curves while trying to get ahead of all those racing with them. Even today where the cars and sport are safer people still die on the track. Back in the days of Fangio, they were sometimes losing five racers a season. This is one of the things that cut through the documentary because it unites the experiences of everyone. There are moments when the depth that the documentary delves into can get a bit dense with all its technical details and it is this emotional connecting that helps ground it.
In the end, do we recommend A Life of Speed: The Juan Manuel Fangio Story? Yes, I think we would. I came to this not knowing much about the history of F1 and came away with a much better understanding. It was also a fascinating look into someone who was at the pinnacle of the sport and who has yet to be superseded. It was well-produced, hit those emotional moments, it educated, it entertained, and more than anything was a spotlight on a fascinating man. If you liked A Life of Speed, we would also recommend Gurrumul and For the Love of Spock.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of A Life of Speed: The Juan Manuel Fangio Story
Directed by – Francisco Macri
Written by – Luciano Origlio & Rodrigo H. Vila
Cinematography by – Daniel Ortega
Edited by – Luciano Origlio
Production/Distribution Companies – Cinema 7 Films, Fox Sports & Netflix
Featuring – Juan Manuel Fangio, Ambroggio Polliastro, Marzia Ferrario, Nico Rosberg, Andrew Bell, Mika Häkkinen, Horacio Pagani, Toto Wolff, Adolfo Orsi, Ermanno Cozza, Lorenzo Ardizio, Hans Hermann, Jackie Stewart, Alain Prost, Horacio Pagani & Juan Manuel Fangio II
Rating – Australia: PG;