Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Life on the Limit

Over the past few years Formula 1 has become increasingly popular in the cinema, in 2010 there was Senna (based on the F1 driver Aryton Senna) and following shortly after that was Ron Howard’s Rush which was based on the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Life on the Limit treads on similar ground as the two films previously mentioned as the documentary focuses on the massive dangers posed to those racing on the limit and how the drivers sought to change that.

In the present day safety is a major part of Formula 1, but it hasn’t always been so as the 60s was a dangerous time for all racing drivers because of the lack of attention to safety procedures and lack of safety equipment such as seatbelts. Life on the Limit focuses heavily on the slow process that made F1 as safe for the drivers as it is today, criticising the organizers and governing body heavily at their lack of effort at introducing safety measures in the process

Similarly, to the BBC’s recent documentary The Killer Years the film highlights the unacceptable conditions in which these drivers raced, a number of drivers die as the underdeveloped tracks claimed the lives of the greatest drivers of all time. Each death of a man in his prime stings considerably, it is shocking and disgraceful that it took almost thirty years for the sport’s governing body to realise enough was enough. It makes for powerful viewing as each death has a powerful impact but once the deaths of these drivers where beamed into the living rooms of millions of people, dying in the name of sport became unacceptable about forty years and several deaths too late.

Despite being highly critical of the era the film still highlights the reasons why the sport electrified the spectators and drivers. Speeding down tarmac in a ‘cigarette case’ with a potentially explosive tank of fuel was deadly exciting for the drivers and spectators. It shows F1 in its full intensity and why a number of drivers continued to race despite the obvious dangers.

There are a few issues however, the documentary is hugely over stylised in its use of editing and music and for those who are knowledgeable about F1 Life of the Limit does offer a powerful expirence yet doesn’t offer them anything they didn’t already know. The documentary still will bring feelings of outrage and disgust at the blatant disregard for human life among F1 fans and non-followers of the sport. However, apart from some previously unseen footage, none of which opens any new doors, Life on the Limit does not cater too greatly to those F1 fans looking to expand their knowledge of the history of sport yet does offer a powerful and moving expirence.


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