Rescued from development hell by Logan and Walk the Line director James Mangold, Le Mans ’66 tells the incredible true story of the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours car race in France.
Here’s why this breakneck and brilliant film is an absolute must-see when it hits ODEON cinemas on 15 November.
If you could set a time machine’s controls for any year in modern history, 1966 would be a good place to stop. The Beatles released Revolver. England won the World Cup. And the history of motorsport was changed forever in the most exciting race ever to scorch the tarmac.
The '24 Hours of Le Mans' is a round-the-clock event in Northern France and is the longest, hardest and hairiest contest in the motorsport calendar. And with Le Mans ’66, director James Mangold’s true story catches the high-speed thrills and personal drama of the year when Ford’s plucky engineers took on the mighty Ferrari.
Motorsport fans will flock to Le Mans ’66 hoping for action – and they certainly won’t be disappointed by the big screen’s most heart-in-mouth racing sequences to date, so real you’ll find yourself flinching behind your popcorn bucket as the cars tear round hairpin bends.
“The goal to me, in an age of incredibly computer-enhanced action movies, was that there could be something profoundly analog and real and gritty about the film and the sexiness of these beasts, the cars, their engines, the danger,” shares director James Mangold.
As astonishing as the racing is, what lifts Le Mans ’66 (titled Ford v Ferrari in the United States) above a simple visual spectacle is the human story behind the horsepower.
The fiery chemistry between Matt Damon as ace US automotive designer, Carroll Shelby, and Christian Bale’s gifted-but- unpredictable British driver, Ken Miles, might not always run smooth: along the way there are fall-outs, fist-fights and black eyes.
But with Mangold pushing the emotional buttons, you’ll be drawn in by a classic David-versus-Goliath tale that sees two underdogs bond in the face of adversity.
Once upon a time Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt were slated to appear in this thrilling racing drama – the film spent a long, long time in development hell – but as good as you imagine they would have been, they’d have to have gone some distance to improve on the performances of Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as Ken Miles. The two are simply sensational and should certainly be in the mix come next year’s award season!
To ensure Le Mans ’66 is as authentic as possible, Mangold sought the guidance of several people with personal connections to the events, including Charlie Agapiou, the former chief mechanic for Shelby American, and Peter Miles, Ken Miles’ real-life son.
Vintage photographs were used to perfect each character’s wardrobe, while an astonishing 34 custom race cars were built and the famous Le Mans racetrack was also painstakingly recreated using 300 archival images from the era. The result is a breakneck, brilliant ride that engulfs you emotionally – even while you hang on to your cinema seat for dear life.
Le Mans ’66 – in ODEON cinemas from 15 November.