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Driver’s ambition: Daniel Brühl in the hot seat as Niki Lauda in Rush
Life in the fast laneRon Howard’s Rush continues cinema’s long-lasting love affair with the sport of... motor racing, writes Michael AdamsGiven that the creation and evolution of cinema and the automobile occurred at roughly the same time, it’s not surprising that the former has always had a fascination for the latter. The filmic need for speed may have reached its fastest point in Formula 1 racing drama Rush.Directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13) and written by Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon), Rush tells the true story of the rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the now legendary 1976 racing season. As Howard puts it, this was a time when “sex was safe and driving was dangerous” and Rush’s thrills arise from just how closely these daredevil racers came to death every time they got behind the wheel. To capture the excitement of the drivers’ showdowns, Howard placed small cameras all over the stunt vehicles – on roofs, panels, under the cars and even up the tailpipes. The result is an explosive and immersive experience. But there are just as many fireworks off-track, with Chris Hemsworth beautifully embodying Hunt’s playboy personality, while Daniel Brühl is methodical and precise as the detached Lauda.Rush is a two-hour scorcher of a film that’s been met with nearly unanimous praise and is now closing in on US$100 million at the international box office. It’s not the first time that tales of the track have been told on the big screen. While not as gritty, Days of Thunder still holds up nicely after almost 25 years. This action movie brought Top Gun director Tony Scott back together with star Tom Cruise to tell the tale of cocksure racer Cole Trickle who’s recruited into NASCAR and goes on to romance a brain surgeon played by Nicole Kidman. Sparks flew on set between the two actors, who before long were married - and the chemistry is palpable on screen.Watching drivers whiz around the track, whether it’s Steve McQueen in 1971’s Le Mans or Lightning McQueen in Pixar’s 2006 animated film, Cars, it’s easy to understand the inherent excitement of the sport. But to really get inside the psychology of the race-car professional, look no further than 2010’s Senna. This fascinating documentary traces Ayrton Senna’s 1984 Formula 1 debut through to his 1994 death in a racing accident. It’s moving, thrilling and, in its depiction of his rivalry with fellow driver Alain Prost, brings home just how real Howard has managed to make Rush.