“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.”
– Emily Brontë
“More powerful than even the fear of death itself, is the will to win.”
Throughout most of the movie, I was so lost into the story that it was easy to forget I was watching actual actors, which hasn’t happened to me during a film in many years. Daniel Brühl and Chris Hemsworth nail their roles seamlessly, but more on that later. Peter Morgan assists with impeccably written dialogue, but the director of the film, Ron Howard’s directional abilities tell quite the convincing story. To be fair, this is a movie, not a documentary…but it feels like a documentary as you watch.
In Ron’s interview about recreating Niki’s near fatal Nürburgring crash, he describes filming the haunting scene on the actual track and in the very spot where Niki Lauda crashed. What a fascinating yet terrifying challenge. Ron describes it as an, “extraordinary opportunity” to get it right.
As the safety spokesperson for the drivers, the real Niki Lauda called a meeting of his fellow racers in an attempt to have the race at Nürburgring stopped, but many of his fellow drivers didn’t agree. In the end, he lost by one vote and was left with little choice but to race. It would be the last Formula One race ever run on that track at Nürburgring.
Niki Lauda explained his will to survive in the hospital after his horrible crash:
“When I came to the hospital. You feel like you are very tired, and you would like to go and sleep,” says Lauda, “but you know it’s not just go and sleeping. It’s something else. And then you just fight with your brain. You hear noises and you hear voices, and you just try to listen to what they are saying and you try to keep your brain working to get the body ready to fight against illness. … I did that and that way I survived.”
In his first meeting with director Ron Howard, Daniel proves his ability to play the sometimes egotistical Niki Lauda.
“And then I felt confident, and I realised that Ron liked me, I had half an hour with him that turned into an hour – and I became a bit cocky. I hadn’t prepared my Austrian accent, but I thought “They’re Americans and English, they won’t be able to tell the difference!” So I began to talk in a fake Austrian accent, to show Ron the difference – and Peter Morgan all of a sudden replies, in polished Viennese, that this is a bullshit Austrian accent! “
Daniel Brühl delivers the difficult role of Niki Lauda with a sort of contradictory ease. He’s cold and calculating, but likable. I found myself cheering him on even before his accident. Daniel actually becomes Niki Lauda.
Daniel Brühl’s intelligence and understanding of F1 racing, had me rooting for him long before his crash depicted in the film. Niki believed in himself and won because he could prove his capabilities not just through the actual act of racing, but the statistics of the field and the mechanics behind the machine.
Chris Hemsworth is beautiful, yet somehow believable as James Hunt. Maybe it’s because he is depicted as a playboy with a conscious, but it’s more than that. His spirit. Chris offers a spirit into the role of James Hunt that would make a ghost jealous. It isn’t about the drama of the sport for James. It’s simply about the skill and thrill of the track and crossing the finish line first. James Hunt was a prankster. In Madrid, Spain on May 2, 1976, James Hunt took the win over Niki Lauda at the Spanish Grand Prix. James Hunt’s car was disqualified after it was found to be 1.8 centimeters too wide. Hunt’s points were given to Lauda. McLaren and Hunt appealed the decision, arguing that the difference had not affected the performance of the car, to which Lauda and Ferrari grossly disagreed. McLaren won the appeal and Hunt’s points were reinstated. As a joke, Hunt was later filmed polishing a sign on the back of his car that read, “Caution Wide Vehicle”.
Sure, James Hunt was a playboy. He was also a F1 driver who drove with his heart for what he believed to be the true nature of the very idea of what it was to be a Formula 1 driver. Statistics mattered not to him. He’d give his life for a win therefore making odds obsolete. His instincts were in the moment, on the track, in that instant. He drove to drive. With that, came victory.
Niki looked to the entire track, the actual mechanics of the race. He understood the machine. More than that, though…he was able to analyze the fear. He said before his near fatal Nürburgring crash, “I accept that every time I get into my car, there’s 20% chance I could die and I could live with it, but not one percent more! And today with the rain, the risk is more.” Niki knew the parts of the actual race car so well, he could see what no one else could and make an adjustment to a vehicle to shave off 2 seconds of lap time. Niki Lauda: “To be a champion, it takes more than just being quick. You have to really believe it.” In Nikki’s extensive knowledge of statistics, he held the advantage as a global thinker who had the concrete knowledge, and solid foundation of understanding that determined his courage to win.
Niki and James were flatmates early in their careers and not completely the rivals depicted. Theirs was a healthy rivalry. Each knew the risks involved and oddly enough, each respected the other for the decisions they made yet couldn’t quite understand. When James Hunt saw Niki Lauda at the 1976 Italian Grand Prix, James said, “I feel responsible for what happened.” Niki answered, “Trust me. Watching you win those races while I was fighting for my life, you were equally responsible for getting me back in the car.”
Underneath the rivalry is a mutual respect for each other. Speaking of the last time Nikki saw James, he said that James was still living each day like his last. Nikki said, “People always think of us as rivals. But he was among the very few I liked and even fewer that I respected. He remains the only person I envied.”
If you’d like, you may watch the trailer for the film, here. I suggest the 2:29 trailer on the right. It’s the most comprehensive and explains the best.
I don’t recommend films often, but Rush definitely has my stamp of approval. Whatever that’s worth. 🙂
1% for the planet.
Rarely do I advertise, but I think this is an incredible organization. 1% for the Planet was created 10 years ago by a mountain climber and a fisherman. The mountain climber, Yvon Chouinard, a phenomenal man I have mentioned before and his good friend, the fisherman, Craig Mathews created a non profit organization with a mission to build, support and activate an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet.
Theirs is a, “platform of credibility and engagement for environmentally conscious brands that are truly committed to making a positive impact with their business. This global movement of more than 1,100 member companies in 48 countries donate one percent of annual sales directly to approved environmental organizations worldwide.”
If reading isn’t your thing, check out their 3 minute video explaining their project.
1% for the Planet just celebrated their 10 year anniversary and more than $100 million invested in positive environmental change by their member companies. If you’re a company or you run your own business, I encourage you to check out this incredible organization.
It is October and Fall has officially arrived. Adventures are my favorite, but those that take place in the Fall are my most treasured.
I recently visited Snoqualmie Falls on a whim and it was quite a treat.
There was mist in the air and it added a somewhat romantic feel to the morning beside the river at the bottom of the waterfall.
What a powerful force, waterfalls. I felt rather small standing there looking at the rushing water.
According to their website, “Snoqualmie is the English pronunciation of “sah-KOH-koh” or “Sdob-dwahibbluh,” a Salish word meaning moon. As a spiritual place, it gave birth to many legends. One tells of “S’Beow” (the beaver), who climbed into the sky to bring trees and fire down to earth. The Native Americans who roamed the valley were known as people of the moon.”
Though it is October and some of the leaves are turning, the plants and vegetation are all thriving and green. The tiny forms of life surrounding the waterfall stand strong and hold their own against the larger force of nature. Maybe it is because I am a fan of the underdog, but it makes me smile.
The walkway and stairs around the falls had metal words embedded in them. They were simple words, but somehow poetic next to the sound of the waterfall and the mist in the air.
I hope everyone is enjoying Fall and all it brings wherever you are!
Yvon Chouinard is as weathered and wise as the rock faces he climbs. In his book, Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, Yvon says, “Real adventure is defined best as a journey from which you may not come back alive, and certainly not as the same person.” That sums up Chouinard’s life thus far quite well.
I had the pleasure of meeting Yvon at a screening in New York for the film, 180° SOUTH: Conquerors of the Useless. His ‘aw shucks’ and unassuming demeanor puts you immediately at ease, but his overall intelligence and environmental genius make you want to get up and positively start to impact the world immediately. The film is a beautiful depiction of Jeff Johnson retracing the epic 1968 journey of his heroes, Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins to Patagonia. You can read more about my review of 180° South in a previous post, here.
“Along the way he gets shipwrecked off Easter Island, surfs the longest wave of his life – and prepares himself for a rare ascent of Cerro Corcovado. Jeff’s life turns when he meets up in a rainy hut with Chouinard and Tompkins who, once driven purely by a love of climbing and surfing, now value above all the experience of raw nature – and have come to Patagonia to spend their fortunes to protect it.”
It’s is more then well worth watching if you haven’t already been fortunate enough to have seen the film.
In A Word, an essay Yvon wrote with Tom Frost in 1974, he describes climbing and the impact it has on the rocks and environment. “As we enter this new era of mountaineering, re-examine your motives for climbing. Employ restraint and good judgment. Remember the rock, the other climbers — climb clean.”
Chouinard got his start climbing at age 14 as a member of the Southern California Falconry Club, training hawks for hunting. He is far and away a self made and self taught man. He started climbing more and noticed that the multiple daily ascents caused wear and distress on the rocks. Yvon wanted to come up with a better way to leave less of a mark while climbing. After meeting John Salathé, a Swiss climber and Swedenborgian mystic who had once made hard-iron pitons out of Model A axles, Yvon decided to make his own reusable hardware. In 1957, he went to a junkyard and bought a used coal-fired forge, a 138-pound anvil, some tongs and hammers, and started teaching himself how to blacksmith.
Yvon isn’t one of those who lectures about the importance of keeping our environment safe and then hops in a Humvee and zooms away. Not only does he really care, he’s backed it up time and time again. In founding his own company, Patagonia, where, from cotton, Yvon moved to what happens in Patagonia’s name in every step of the supply chain, from crop to fabric to finished garment. Patagonia learned how to make fleece jackets from recycled plastic bottles and then how to make fleece jackets from fleece jackets. Yvon also donates his time and resources to films like 180° SOUTH. But Chouinard doesn’t stop there. He went on to found an organization called 1% for the Planet, which helps businesses sustain the environment as well. Yvon is an intelligent, forward thinker who truly can and has made a huge and extremely positive change for the environment. To Yvon, there is a simple way to help with environmental awareness and caring:
“Kids today have nature deficit disorder. We raise our kids afraid of everything – justifiably in some cases – which creates an estrangement from nature. I think the problem with getting Americans to focus on saving our planet is that they have no experience in nature and you know, you protect what you love and they don’t love nature.”
However, it isn’t only children we need to worry about. Other people, especially businesses should be aware of the impact they have on the environment. A decade ago, Chouinard founded 1% for the Planet with Craig Matthews. Their mission is to, “build, support and activate an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet.” They have just celebrated their 10 year anniversary and more than $100 million invested in positive environmental change by their member companies. You can watch the promotional video here.
Yvon says, “Evil doesn’t have to be an overt act; it can be merely the absence of good. If you have the ability, the resources, and the opportunity to do good and you do nothing, that can be evil.” Chouinard is a one-of-a-kind hero for the world. I admire him greatly. He’s far from finished and the legacy he’s left thus far could draw a stone to tears. Yvon makes my heart happy. He’s worth getting to know. Read Yvon’s fascinating story.
According to Jonathan Raban, “Seattle was built out on pilings over the sea, and at high tide the whole city seemed to come afloat like a ship lifting free from a mud berth and swaying in its chains.”
Seattle constantly surprises me. I’ve been here not yet one month, but the city seems to be quite a mystery to me, still.