Weekend Roundup & Review of ‘1976: Hunt vs Lauda’ Documentary

Ok, I’m hoping I won’t have to talk about Minnesota weather on every Weekend Roundup but this is truly ridiculous! Schools are canceled today nationwide, ordered by the Governor, and every forecast says things like “Limit or even eliminate time spent outside today” and “It’s truly dangerous out there.” My brother in Jakarta thought business would be closed too, but not a chance, though I did opt to work from home today. I’m coming in to work tomorrow though as temp is slightly better, but man, I sure hope this is the last arctic blast we’re gonna see in a while. This is brutal!!

Naturally, I hibernated all weekend. We finally caught the sci-fi drama Contact for the first time, thanks to my pal Ted for lending me the DVD. Another film we saw was 1976: Hunt vs. Lauda (Thanks The Revolver Group, for sending me the dvd), which was dramatized in the Ron Howard film RUSH. Here’s my review:

1976HuntVsLauda_DVD1976: Hunt Vs. Lauda

As I quite enjoyed RUSH, I was definitely curious to see this documentary about the first Formula 1 superstars and perhaps the greatest sports rivalry. Sometimes a film took a lot of liberty and over-dramatize the story, especially something THIS sensational, so I wanted to see the real story of James Hunt vs. Niki Lauda. The documentary is only 60-min long and it focuses primarily on the races in the year of 1976. So we didn’t quite get the background of each of the racer which would’ve been nice to see.

What strikes me is how close the portrayal of both Hunt and Lauda in the film version, especially German actor Daniel Brühl as Lauda where he totally nailed the mannerism and way of speaking on top of being made up to closely resemble the Austrian racer. In this film, it’s also Lauda who gives us a bit more insight into his character and also the drama that went on in those dangerous races. I guess the fact that Lauda is the only one still alive today gives him the edge, but the flamboyant Hunt was pretty short in his past interviews as well. We do get a glimpse of Hunt’s ambition from his sister in one of the interviews, how he’s got this single-minded drive to win the world championship.

We’ve got talking heads such as Lauda’s Ferrari manager Daniele Audetto and Hunt’s manager at McLaren Alastair Caldwell, providing eye-witness account of the event. It’s interesting to see that throughout the film, it appears that despite the rivalry, Hunt and Lauda are pretty good friends. Even Lauda himself was happy when Hunt won the World Championship after he crashed his car, and Hunt was one of the first at the scene of Lauda’s crash as well. Caldwell said that Hunt said this following the accident, “Niki, you re the only person I know who could have been in a fire and come out better looking.” Despite the difference in character, they seem to really like each other, so RUSH somehow made it look as if there were more animosity between them.

Top: Lauda & Hunt  Bottom: Lauda with his Ferrari manager (in blue jacket)
Top: Lauda & Hunt
Bottom: Lauda with his Ferrari manager Audetto (in blue Goodyear jacket)

The racing footage was pretty thrilling to see, especially that rainy day in Japan where it obviously looked too dangerous to race on. It showed how the World Championship race was very tight, Lauda was way ahead initially but by the end it was neck and neck. It’s fascinating to see Lauda’s determination to race merely six weeks (2 races later) after his accident, and he was so nonchalant about it when the press asked him about it. It did affect his decision to withdraw from the Japanese Grand Prix as by then he had faced a near-death experience and he simply couldn’t go through it again. I’ve come to really respect Lauda and find him to be immensely sympathetic. He barely has anything bad to say in his later interviews and he doesn’t seem to have any regret despite the major scar he received from the accident.

Lauda – then and now

One complaint I have is the audio issues with the disc, which makes the narrator’s voice sounds so dim at times that it was tough to hear. Fortunately the sound from the footage and interviews are fine. It was worth seeing the real story of Hunt and Lauda, especially if you’re a fan of sports documentaries. Hunt had the looks and the glamor, but Lauda’s got the heart and technical precision that made him a racing legend. Though he lost in 1976, he went on to become world champion again in 1977 and 1984. As I said before, I wish there were more backstory here before the real rivalry began. These guys certainly have incredible stories worth-telling.

3 out of 5 reels

The DVD is available starting tomorrow on Amazon.com

That’s my weekend roundup folks. What did YOU see this weekend!

47 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup & Review of ‘1976: Hunt vs Lauda’ Documentary

  1. I finally saw some first-timers this weekend. The Weight of Water by Kathryn Bigelow and Shoot the Piano Player by Francois Truffaut. I hope you have some extra blankets. I already heard how cold it is at Minnesota.

    1. I hadn’t heard of The Weight of Water but I just looked it up on IMDb. Sounds intriguing, I like Catherine McCormack and Ciaran Hinds.

      Yeah it’s nuts over here, I mean we woke up to -20˚F this morning and that’s just the temp, windchill was 10-15 degrees colder!

      1. The Weight of Water is directed by Kathryn Bigelow which I saw for the upcoming Auteurs piece on her. I only have one more film to watch and 2 more of her films to re-watch. So far, that film is her weakest one to date.

  2. Good review Ruth. For some reason I could never get excited about Rush. It’s certainly a cool story though. It’s definitely on my DVD watch list once it comes out.


    1. Oh give it a shot, Keith, the story is pretty riveting even if you’re not a Formula 1 fan. If you like documentaries, this one should be worth your time.

      Thanks, I intend to 😀

  3. Very interesting. I learned something new today. I like documentaries, so will add this to the list 🙂
    P.S. Get your hiney out of MN and head south. It’s 60 and sunny here in lovely Arizona.
    PPS. My son and Mom in Illinois are having the same weather as you. It’s dreadful–stay safe!

    1. Hi Cindy! I’d LOVE to come and visit you! I have a dear friend who lives in Tempe AZ as well.

      If you like documentaries, this should be a fun one to see. There’s nothing quite like a Formula 1 race!

      1. Right.

        Sorry. Interesting can mean either good or bad depending on the context. (As in The Paperboy was an . . . interesting . . . Experience.)

        Should have been more clear in my adjective selections.

        1. Ahah that’s ok! Yeah I figure The Paperboy would be interesting in a bad way. I read some reviews of that and I knew it’s not for me. Did you review that one by any chance? That might be before we *met* on the blogosphere 😀

          1. It was before I started blogging, so I never wrote a review for it. Probably never will, because I have no intent of seeing it again.

            I don’t know that I’d go so far as to call it bad, by the way. Just so strange as to be less than memorable and certainly off-putting. McConaughey is fantastic in it, though.

  4. Ted S.

    I need to find a new job in warmer state and leave this frigid town, it’s ridiculous! Since it’s so cold, I didn’t even bother going outside much over the weekend. Watched lots of football games and movies. I finally watched Get The Gringo with Mel Gibson on Netflix. Rented 2 Guns and round off my action movie viewing weekend with Michael Mann’s Miami Vice, I still think it’s underrated action thriller; yeah it wasn’t perfect but at least it stuck with the same tone throughout. It’s a serious crime thriller but I guess most people were expecting to see a fun action adventure, especially when it opened in the summer season.

    I have seen Rush yet, I might give this documentary a watch after I saw it.

    1. I know Ted, this might be the last straw. When my sister in-law is back to Seattle we just might join her there!

      How was Get The Gringo? Would you do a review of that, I haven’t seen anybody review that one.

      I’ll lend you the doc, it’ll be a good combo to watch with RUSH.

      1. Ted S.

        I’d love to live in Seattle, the only way I’ll move there is to find a great job with great pay since it’s expensive to live there. I don’t mind dealing with the rain, can’t stand the snow and subzero temps anymore.

        Get The Gringo was actually pretty descent, much better than I thought it would be. I’ll remember to write a review of it and send it over to you soon.

        1. Yeah, I don’t mind the rain either and plus the rain there is more of a nuisance, not torrential downpours. After a while you don’t notice them, that’s what my sis in-law says.

          Ok cool, sometime this month for the review would be great Ted, no rush!

  5. That documentary looks interesting, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to it.

    I watched several films from 1934 this weekend, like Les Miserables and Twentieth Century. I loved both, even if the former was 281 minutes. 🙂

    1. You saw RUSH right Josh? It’s a good one particularly if you like the Hunt vs Lauda story.

      Who were the cast in 1934 Les Miserables? Boy I haven’t even seen the current version as it’s just so darn long!

      1. Yeah, I really enjoyed Rush. 🙂

        It stars a cast of French actors like Harry Baur, Charles Vanel, Florelle, Charles Dullin, Orane Demazis and Josseline Gaël. I should have a review posted later this week.

  6. Brrr, sounds like spring can’t come soon enough.

    Ooh Contact is so good, the only thing I’d change about it is to tweak the ending a bit.

    Rush is on my watch list. Sometimes it can be quite fascinating to see the real person compared with the actor who portrayed them.

    I enjoyed Place Beyond The Pines this weekend! 🙂

    1. Yeah unfortunately it’s 4 months away 😦 But these days I’d be happy if it hit even 30 degrees!

      Contact is pretty intriguing, I had no idea what to expect but I like the spiritual aspect of it, a different take of the typical sci-fi.

      Rush is great, and Daniel Bruhl is absolutely amazing in his portrayal of Lauda as he looks and behaves just like him! Haven’t seen Place Beyond The Pines yet, I have a weird aversion towards Gosling, ahah.

    1. Hello Mark! I always love seeing the REAL stories of people being depicted in films, as in the case of this one, they overdramatized the relationship between the two racers when in reality there probably wasn’t much tension between them.

    1. Right on, Chris! Oooh, I like both of those movies too, FROZEN has somehow made it to my Top 5 of the year, that’s how much I love that movie!

  7. PrairieGirl

    Watched the Phantom of the Opera 1925 (out on DVD in 2007). I was pleasantly surprised at what a great film it is and was totally immersed. Every part was good: acting, sets, musical score. Universal pre-screened (and then portions reshot) for audiences at least two times in 1925 before it’s final release in November 1925. Can only imagine what the first movie-goers thought when they saw it. I love finding classic gems like this!

    1. That’s cool that you enjoyed the 1925 POTO, I know that’s a classic that a lot of people love. I might give it a shot at some point, though my vision of the Phantom is pretty much set ever since I saw Andrew Lloyd Weber’s stage play… and further reinforced by Gerry Butler’s rendition of course 😉

      1. PrairieGirl

        Of course, Lon Chaney does NOT trump GB or other stage actors at playing the phantom, especially how he looks, but his performance was surprisingly nuanced, and really seemed at times to parallel GBs. In fact, I know think Webber’s Phantom borrowed from this original in several ways, even down to the music… I actually heard very short musical phrases that reminded me of the Phantom’s “theme” song and also Angel of Music. As like you though, GB will always be my phantom ;-D

  8. Nice post. I bet that documentary is very interesting, especially since I loved Rush, as you know! Hope it warms up a bit over there, Ruth! Take care of yourself 🙂

    This weekend I watched About Time and Don Jon.

    1. Yeah I thought of you when I saw it, it’d definitely something you’d enjoy. Btw, since you love Bruhl, you’ll love my next post 😉

      Thanks Fernando, it’s supposed to warm up to 35˚ F this weekend, woo hoo! 😀

      I haven’t seen About Time yet, hopefully soon!

      1. I’ll check that post out, then!

        Oh, that temp’s much more acceptable. I’ve just been in shock this week reading that some states in the US have reached between – 30 and -50 degrees Celsius. That is INSANE.

        Hope you see About Time soon. I loved that one. Don Jon, not so much.

  9. Awesome! I was always curious how much of Rush true…. because it had so much drama in in! I’m not a Formula 1 fan but I bet it would have been really exciting to see the season that Hunt won unfold. It was so unpredictable!

  10. Interesting. The story was great to me as well. That’s too bad that there’s not much story before the rivalry. I also thought maybe the movie can be over dramatized and maybe they weren’t loathing at each other. But it’s a great relationship to set one another a challenge.

  11. Pingback: Another Hodge Podge | jjames reviews

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