McLaren the film - review

In a film created from a thousand kaleidoscopic moments of nostalgia, sadness and heroism, perhaps the most poignant moment in 'McLaren', the story of Bruce McLaren's life, is a photograph, which flits across the screen, showing three children in a bath. All three are smiling happily at the camera. The little girl in the photo, aged five, is Amanda McLaren, only child of Bruce and Patty McLaren. The date is June 2, 1970: the day her father dies.

"It was a gradual realisation that he was gone", she tells me after the private screening of the film. "I was too young to miss him immediately."

Everything about the film is poignant, not least that we watch it at Hound Lodge on the Goodwood estate, just down the road from the circuit where Bruce McLaren died at the age of 32. The true story of this extraordinary film, however, is just how much McLaren crammed into such a short time. You have to keep reminding yourself, as the story progresses through his time at Cooper then in F1 followed by Can-Am, that for most of it he still hadn't hit 30.

The film, with its mash-up of grainy original footage, recreation of key moments using actors, cartoon elements and even footage from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to illustrate pivotal events, is in many ways the anatomy of the perfect racing driver. Here was a man who could design, engineer, build, race and sell his own cars, with overwhelming success. No one has matched his Formula 1 victory at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1968, when, as a racing driver, he won a major grand prix in a car of his own design, with his name on the nose.

But what the film really brings to life is the work, vision and achievements by Bruce McLaren that would lead to this moment, and from there to the successful production of road cars. It looks at the men McLaren brought to work alongside him, and the team spirit, which culminated in everyone turning up for work the day after McLaren died, despite being given the day off.

There are of course the obligatory interviews with Emerson Fittipaldi, Dan Gurney, Jackie Stewart and Mario Andretti, who all confirm that Bruce McLaren was a superstar. But it's when the film looks closely at the mechanics and designers behind the cars that we get an intimate look at the man Bruce McLaren was.

One feels, watching this beautiful film, that, much like everyone who owns a Range Rover should be forced onto an off-roading course to appreciate what they're driving, everyone who buys a McLaren these days should have to watch this film.

And behind all that the badge stands for lies the passion of one man. The epitaph he penned for his teammate Timmy Mayer is well known but worth repeating. "The news that he had died instantly was a terrible shock to all of us, but who is to say that he had not seen more, done more and learned more in his few years than many people do in a lifetime? To do something well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy. It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one's ability, for I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone."

Watch the trailer here


[Images: LAT Photo]

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (17) Join the discussion on the forum

  • gigglebug 20 May 2017

    To have achieved so much at an age so young really does put into perspective how great a talent the man was.

  • gigglebug 20 May 2017

    Is there a particular book that that you would recommend a Range Rover owner should experience on their "off-reading" course?

    I'm sure there are numerous comical suggestions at this point but I'll leave that to others.

    Edited by gigglebug on Saturday 20th May 06:23

  • 100 IAN 20 May 2017

    Doesn't seem to be showing in any of my local large Multiplex's, only the smaller cinemas.

    You can search here where its being screened.

  • belleair302 20 May 2017

    It is only in certain cinemas for a very short run, but will be on dvd / blu ray immediately.

  • Edmundo2 20 May 2017

    Not showing anywhere within 40 mile radius of Leeds....It's not the centre of the universe but still. Shame as I quite fancied seeing it on the big screen.

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