by Ron Howard
The Niki Lauda portrayed by Ron Howard in Rush is a Niki Lauda so strong and determined in the pursuit of his passions that he overlooks any difficulties: from the purely physical (his recovery, despite the severe burns he suffered in the accident, after only thirty-three days in hospital is extraordinary) to the personal.
A man called Niki
A character that couldn’t go unnoticed, Niki Lauda. A figure, his, who, having achieved great success in motor racing, is mainly remembered for his tenacity, for his strong-willed attitude, capable of overcoming even the most unthinkable difficulties, just to get back on track. This was also noticed in his time by American director Ron Howard, when, in 2013, he made the excellent Rush, focusing precisely on the life of the well-known Austrian driver and, specifically, on his rivalry/friendship with fellow Briton James Hunt.
One of the most popular directors in the mainstream film industry, Howard has succesfully realised a popular, high-quality film, in which the fast-paced car-racing scenes are well balanced with the moments that show us the ambivalent – but extremely sincere – relationship between the two protagonists.
It all began in 1970, the year in which the two young drivers (played by Chris Hemsworth and a very similar-looking Daniel Brühl) met in Formula 3 and immediately quarrelled, given their different approaches. This stormy and controversial relationship will continue until their arrival in Formula 1, from the competition between Ferrari (driven by Lauda) and McLaren (Hunt’s car), until the terrible accident involving Niki Lauda’s car – during the German Grand Prix – in August 1976.
Rush, then, stages just that: a sincere and ambivalent relationship, where sporting spirit in its purest sense plays the starring role, and where, above all, Lauda’s strong personality is particularly highlighted. The Niki Lauda portrayed by Ron Howard – who also acts as narrator – is a Niki Lauda who is so strong and determined in pursuing his passions that he overlooks any difficulties, from the purely physical (his recovery, despite the serious burns he suffered in the accident, after only thirty-three days in hospital, is extraordinary) to the personal.
The director, for his part, while fully reflecting the canons of the mainstream sport films, has created something new and with a strong personality, skilfully avoiding any of the clichés to which works of this genre are prone, making his Rush a highly enjoyable film, in which, although at times the portrayal of the two sportsmen may be somewhat ‘unbalanced’ (given the particular focus on Lauda’s character), the result is a sincere portrait of a unique friendship.
It is not surprising, then, that a personality like Niki Lauda should have caught the attention, so closely, of various directors around the world (for example, the interesting documentary Lauda – The Untold Story, directed by Austrian Hannes Michael Schalle, is also dedicated to him). Even those who are not Formula 1 fans know very well this courageous driver, who later also became a successful entrepreneur, first founding the airline company Lauda Air and then the low-cost Fly Niki (it is impossible not to remember, for anyone who had the opportunity to fly with that company, the welcome video message in which it was Niki Lauda himself who wished his passengers a good flight). And if, in fact, it seems quite reductive to remember him only because of the terrible car accident in which he was involved, it is also true that his very special – but always smiling – face, which showed the clear signs of the burns he had suffered, was precisely an indication of his extraordinary ability to get back on track after every difficulty.
In short, a sportsman in all respects, who, throughout his brilliant career, was not even afraid to denounce, when necessary, the ambiguities of a business environment such as the one in which he used to compete. A honest person who managed to enter everyone’s heart. And this is precisely what Ron Howard in Rush perfectly portrayed in a successful mix of facts and emotions.
Original title: Rush
Directed by: Ron Howard
Country/year: USA / 2013
Running time: 123’
Genre: biographical, sport
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino, David Calder, Natalie Dormer
Screenplay: Peter Morgan
Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle
Produced by: Working Title Films, Imagine Entertainment