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Starring: Niki Lauda, Jackie Stewart, Jochen Mass
Director: Hannes Michael Schalle
Running Time: 90 mins
Lauda: The Untold Story is an Austrian documentary about Formula One driver Niki Lauda, and the impact of a horrific crash at the Nurburgring that left him fighting for his life, only to return to racing just six weeks later.
I’m a big fan of Formula 1, and Niki Lauda is undoubtedly up there as one of the most fascinating and legendary drivers in the sport’s history. With that said, this documentary doesn’t quite bring that to life, and although it details some fascinating events accompanied by riveting interviews, it’s portrayed in a rather basic way throughout, and doesn’t prove quite as enthralling as could have been the case.
Let’s start off with what the film does well, and that’s tell a good story. You may have seen the thrilling drama Rush
, which looked at Lauda’s rivalry with James Hunt, however I was glad to see that this film expanded beyond that, never really putting that much emphasis on said rivalry.
Now, of course, it plays a role in the story, but the major flashpoint that the film focuses on is Lauda’s accident at the Nurburgring in 1976, and how it affected him, as well as the motorsport world. There is still some great insight into his early career, personal life and current endeavours, all detailed by Lauda himself in interviews, however it’s that central focus that offers up some riveting facts.
Above all, the film goes into great detail about the emotional effect Lauda suffered after the accident, with some rather hard-hitting revelations about his feelings at the time, bringing a riveting level of depth to the film at times, and leaving me wanting to know more and more, and how his bravery and determination after the accident played such a role in his career and life as a whole.
Unfortunately, however, there are elements of the story that the film portrays that aren’t quite as engrossing. For one, while it goes into strong detail about how attitudes toward driver and circuit safety were changing at the time, and furthered by the impact of Lauda’s accident, there were times when I felt as if the movie was being a little too basic and simply factual in its portrayal of such an important turning point in the sport.
Couple that with the fact that the film occasionally completely does away with Lauda’s own story and instead only focuses on the safety side of things, and the film becomes an occasionally frustrating and inconsistent watch.
Finally, there are elements of the directing that make the film a little duller than its riveting story truly is. In comparison to the flawless documentary Senna
, Lauda: The Untold Story is a little basic in its delivery, with a series of interviews not always brilliantly edited together interspersed by good archive footage, but ruined by an uninspiring narrator: all simple issues that make the movie a lot less impressive.
On the whole, Lauda: The Untold Story isn’t the world’s greatest documentary. It has a great story to tell, and certainly recommended viewing for any F1 fan to expand their knowledge of the sport, however it fails to prove either exhilarating or impressive due to poor editing and misguided directing at times, which is why I’m giving it a 7.0.