“Truth in 24”

24

I’ve written reviews about different movies on this blog, but today it struck me that I haven’t written a word about this documentary entitled “Truth in 24.”

I’ve been a movie buff for longer than I’ve been a gear-head. My father used to regularly load the family into the car and head to the drive-in for anything starring John Wayne. He was big on westerns and war films, so I guess you could call him an action movie fan for his generation.

I tend to have a varied taste when it comes to films. I enjoy science fiction if it isn’t too bizarre, the action genre can be good if it actually has a story, and the romantic comedy is always a good date night choice. I absolutely don’t do horror flicks since I don’t enjoy the excessive, pointless gore, and the acting is comparable to high school drama class.

Being a car-guy and movie buff has its downside, especially since there are very few films about cars and racing that are worth a bag of popcorn. I enjoyed “Heart like a Wheel” which starred Bonnie Bedelia in the lead role of Shirley Muldowney, better known as the “First Lady of Drag Racing.” The film showcased the challenges Muldowney faced both on and off the track, and it was a very moving story.

Paul Newman was famous for making films about racing since it was a passion for him, and he could certainly speak from experience since he finished second in the GT class at Le Mans in 1979, but he never made a racing film that was a blockbuster.

The legendary Steve McQueen also had a penchant for cars and racing, and in 1971 he released a film about the most famous auto race in the world; the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The film has since become a classic icon as it was shot during the actual running of the 1970 Le Mans event. McQueen’s choices of camera angles were stunning, and the film delivers a look that puts the viewer both in and on the car at 180mph speeds. Despite its visual realism, “Le Mans” suffers badly from dry acting and a paper thin plot.

“Truth in 24” tells the compelling story of Audi’s domination of this grueling endurance race for the better part of a decade. The piece was produced by NFL Films, and if you have ever enjoyed the drama they can lend to showcasing a Super Bowl, then prepare yourself for a treat. The Audi Racing Teams’ conquest to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2008 against the superior machines of Peugeot is delivered with incredible camera work, and interlaced with personal interviews from drivers, engineers and broadcasters alike.

The film makes wonderful use of vintage footage, and gives historic insight to what has made Le Mans the most challenging auto race in the world for nearly a century. Jason Statham provides the narration, and while he may not be the most eloquent voice out there, his love for auto racing is evident in his focused delivery of every line of script.

For me, “Truth in 24”is the most intimate look inside not only a racing team, but the human element that is required to conquer such a daunting automotive event. There is no other auto race that compares to the multi-faceted competition that is Le Mans. No other race tests the limits of man and machine in the same way, and there is no other race course like the Circuit de La Sarthe. This ribbon of asphalt laid across the French countryside has claimed her victims and crowned her champions, so when a team of drivers ascends to the top step of the podium and sprays champagne, as it was first done by Dan Gurney in 1967, then the taste of victory is both sweet and hard earned.

“Truth in 24” was first broadcast on ESPN, and may occasionally be found there again. The 2010 running of the 24 Hours is but a few scant weeks away in early June, so it may be re-run in honor of the event. Apple’s iTunes also has it available for download, and DVDs are for sale on Audi Sport’s website.

Settle in to your favorite spot, turn on your big screen and crank up the surround sound, and prepare to see racing like you’ve never seen it before. The soundtrack is rousing, the scream of the engines is magical, and the historic run of Audi Motorsports is one for the ages.

-T. August Green

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