Tuesday, 20 March 2012

24hours - One team. One target.

A film by Tim and Nick Hahne, presented by Stereoscreen.

I recently came across this DVD, and I am so glad I did. First and foremost, there are so few films about the Nürburgring 24 hours, and with the ever-increasing profile of this race, it is about time someone stepped in to fill the void. The trouble is that Tim and Nick Hahne’s film sets the bar at a pretty high level and I fear it might discourage others from trying.

The film tells the story of the Schnitzer BMW team, as it faces its big target: winning the 24 hours at the Nürburgring in 2011. Having won the race the previous year, expectations are high, and without wanting to spoil the plot for you, it was always going to be a big challenge for Charly Lamm’s team in the face of the competition from Porsche, Ferrari, Mercedes and Audi.

The film follows the team through its preparation: testing at Imola, in the workshops at Freilassing and finally at the Nürburgring for qualifying and the race. We get ‘at home’ glimpses of life with the Priaulx family in Guernsey, see Jörg Müller and Augusto Farfus tearing up the streets of Monaco on their scooters and hear Dirk Adorf explaining his passion for the race as he prepares his tea.

Best supporting actor is race engineer Jacques Hendrikse; the Dutchman playing a role of which Jack Nicholson would be proud - grumpy, but wise; a father figure in whose hands the team can safely place its trust.

The Oscar performance though, comes from Charly Lamm. A familiar face, but beneath his craggy visage are a love and passion for endurance racing (proper racing) that shines out from the screen like xenon headlights piercing the dark of the Eifel forests. I defy you to watch to the end without a lump in your throat, if not a tear in your eye.

Musical accompaniment comes from Toussaint, supplemented by the vocal talent of Sara Lugo, which certainly adds to the atmosphere. Personally, though, I found the complexity of the score a little obtrusive and at times distracting; but that could have a lot to do with my own musical preferences, and certainly doesn’t devalue the quality of the show.

You can watch either with English or German narration, but in either case, you probably need to have the subtitles switched on, as so much of the film is spent with the likes of Lamm or Priaulx speaking their native languages. But it works far better to hear them speaking than to have their voices dubbed - to understand fully what they are saying you need to hear the excitement and emotion in their voices.

I have only one real warning and that is that the film is very light on technical detail - the depth of emotional content comes at that price. You are not really told at any point what the team is doing, or why. But this is not a film to give away any engineering or strategic secrets - rather it gets to the heart and soul of endurance racing in general and the Nürburgring in particular.

If your video and DVD collection contains too many Le Mans films (like mine does) then this is a wonderful addition to it. It may not be the best film you’ve ever bought (that is anyway a matter for lively debate) but I would be surprised if you don’t go back and watch it over and over again.

Find it on Amazon, or http://24hours-der-film.de. It is also available on Blu-ray if you are so equipped.

When you've watched it, let me know what you think below.

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