Movie of the Week 44
Ford v Ferrari 2019 drama sports
This movie chronicles the epic battle between two legendary automakers on the track at Le Mans in 1966. To say this is another “race car” flick is to sell it short. Drastically. You need not be a racing fan or car aficionado to enjoy this film. Because above all else, Ford v Ferrari is an interesting, well told tale and that is the basis of any good film. The real heart of the movie is about the relationship between American racing hero Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and championship driver, Ken Miles (Christian Bale). They have a friendship forged in the racing pits and test tracks where the risk of death lurks in the shadows. The two men know for a fact that they are in way over their heads, but with a blank check from the Ford Motor Company, they take a shot at the high-flying, seemingly unbeatable, Ferrari race team.
Thus is launched the Ford GT40 project. Along the way a surprising amount of actual, technical detail about developing the Ford GT40 is presented. Shelby’s shop in a hangar at LAX is the central set where the key winning elements come together. The movie strips away almost everything else, both historically and factually, to present the efforts of Shelby’s team at LAX. This dismays some of the race car “experts” who are quick to point out the movie skims over the British design team responsible for the GT40 body, and the scores of Ford engineers and technicians in Detroit who designed and built the awesome 427 V8 engine. Sorry, but the reality is 152 minutes of screen time. Cut!
The film may not be 100% factual with the exact timeline, or provide screen time to everybody involved, but who cares? This film is the closest any Hollywood production will ever get to tell the real story of America’s greatest car racing victory in Europe. And that is more than enough for me. For those who want to get into the car racing weeds, I suggest you read this book: Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans (2009) by A.J. Baime.
On the other hand, some film reviewers harshly condemned the movie because it was too factual and realistic. Bloomberg’s “Horrible” Hannah Elliot writes, “It’s a beautifully shot film that will be enjoyable for modern car buyers and enthusiasts alike—engines rev, tires squeal, stopwatches click. But what I saw is a devastating picture of the lack of diversity… Ford v Ferrari shows a generation best left dead and gone… men dominate the screen for 98% of the time, by my unofficial count. They are in the executive suites at Ford and Ferrari, in the workshops and garages in Venice, on the track out at Willow Springs Raceway. (And when I say men, I mean white, straight men.)” Hannah, are you for real? The message of this excellent film is true and straightforward: It glorifies American innovation, competitive spirit, bravery and determination. That said, I understand how this movie could rattle the delicate sensibilities of the modern, anti-white male, self-hating SJWs. I think Hannah is hungry to engage in some revisionist history, so I have an idea to help her. The 1968 Disney car flick, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, is in serious need of a modern remake, after all the cast is ridiculously white. Let’s yank Dick Van Dyke (a white, straight, male) from behind the wheel and put Whoopi Goldberg in the driver’s seat. That should fix it.
There is already quite a bit of Academy Award chatter on the web about this film. Oscars have been cheapened by the host of weak films that win awards based more on PC ideology than actual movie craftsmanship and acting talent. This year may be different because Ford v Ferrari is so terrific, it will be hard for the snobs to ignore the best film of the year. Christian Bale's multi-layered performance will stick in your mind for days afterwards, and deserves recognition. Same can be said of the Screenplay, Cinematography, production and direction of this excellent film.
I highly recommend seeing this movie on the largest screen possible. Sit back and enjoy the powerful growl of the GT40 427 V8 as you re-live the Golden Age of American muscle cars.
Written by Ben Clark. Copyright 2016-2023. All rights reserved.