Ford v Ferrari: a must-see movie for all petrol-heads

throwback sports film A racecar was built in the 1960s to help the Ford Motor Company beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in FrancePHOTO: supplied
throwback sports film A racecar was built in the 1960s to help the Ford Motor Company beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in FrancePHOTO: supplied

Ford v Ferrari

Director: James Mangold

Starring: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe


Ford v Ferrari is an instant best picture contender.” That was the headline of Mark Hughes’ review in Forbes magazine, in which he also described how the movie left all others in the dust on its opening weekend.

I have to agree with Hughes. I am a petrolhead and I was stoked when I was on my way to watch the film, as anything that celebrates the good old days of naturally aspirated V8s gets two points in my books.

The extra two points are earned due to what I think makes this particular movie special, and that is the way it offers something that’s suitable for everyone.

Director James Mangold manages to talk to the petrol heads with the cars that are featured, as well as offer something accessible to normal humans through the amazing story he tells.

Ford v Ferrari is the story of the real-life rivalry between the two car manufacturers leading up to the big 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1966. Ferrari was already well established in racing and its yellow badge with a prancing horse had crossed the finish line first at the famed race for three years straight. However, it was so good at the racing side of things that it started slacking on the business of selling cars and ran into financial trouble.

Pockets drying up, Ferrari looked for a buyer. Ford, which was then looking to change its reputation of being a boring producer of family cars, decided to go into racing and buy Ferrari, but the deal fell through because Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone) was too proud to sell his company to the Americans.

Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) got pissed off by this and decided to build his own racing team to beat Ferrari. He enlisted the help of engineer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) to head the team, and Shelby enlisted the help of his friend Ken Miles (Christian Bale), a difficult but brilliant English race car driver.

Petrolheads like me are treated to the recreated sounds of the Ferrari 330 P3 and the Ford GT40. There’s something special about hearing those cars revving in a cinema, which gets the senses going into overdrive. The way the film captures Bale putting the Ford GT40 through its paces is amazing as one gets to feel what racers like Miles experienced back then. They drove cars with a stupid amount of power and without any driver aids – just man and machine fighting the forces of nature.

The story comes into its own as the film shows the strain that building a racing car to beat Ferrari took on the relationship between Shelby and Miles, and also on Miles’ family.

Ultimately, it’s a compelling adaptation of real-life events.

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