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Le Mans '66 (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000224928
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 4/3/2024 20:34
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    Review for Le Mans '66

    9 / 10


    One thing that annoys me is when films get their names changed. It’s a significant issue with Hong Kong cinema, where a film can go by half a dozen names in the West. But Hollywood gets up to it too (the first Avengers movie was renamed Avengers Assemble to distinguish it from the sixties UK spy franchise). A few years ago, I was excited by the trailers and initial reviews for Ford V Ferrari, a film which had the added bonus of Jason Bourne and Batman having the lamest fight in cinema history. As I so often do, I made a mental note to snaffle up the Blu-ray as soon as possible. But by the time the film arrived in the UK and Europe, it had been renamed to Le Mans ’66. I didn’t make the connection at the time, and instead thought it was a remake of the Steve McQueen movie from 1971. That mental note popped up again last year, and I finally made a concerted effort to find the film, even considering importing the US disc, where it is still known as Ford V Ferrari, before the penny dropped, and I opted for a more reasonably priced UK disc.

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    17 years after the end of the Second World War, an opportunity was arising in the US. The children born out of the jubilation of victory were now coming of age, and were ready to buy cars. The problem for Ford was that they had a reputation for dull, plodding and pedestrian machines. No self-respecting teenager would be seen dead in a Ford. Lee Iacocca had an idea to improve Ford’s image however with just some expenditure of money. World racing champions they may be, but Ferrari had just spent themselves into bankruptcy. But Enzo Ferrari’s response to Henry Ford II’s overtures was insulting. So if Henry Ford wasn’t going to have Ferrari’s name to trade on, he decided that the company would beat Ferrari at their own game instead by winning the Le Mans 24 hours.

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    In 1959 Carroll Shelby was the only American to win Le Mans, although he did so in an Aston Martin. But his racing career came to an end following a doctor’s examination, and he embarked on a career in designing and selling cars instead. His friend Ken Miles had the talent to be the best racer, and backed that up by being a skilled engineer, but he had a temperament that rubbed everyone the wrong way, and kept him out of the more lucrative races. When Ford came to Shelby to create a Le Mans winner, Shelby knew he couldn’t do it without Ken Miles. However, winning Le Mans was enough of a challenge, dealing with the Ford executives was on a whole other level.

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    Le Mans ’66 gets a 2.39:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on this disc, with the choice between DTS-HD MA 7.1 Surround English, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo English, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround English Audio Descriptive, and DTS 5.1 Surround French, German, Spanish and Italian, with subtitles in these languages and Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish. It’s an excellent transfer, clear and sharp, with rich and consistent colours, and colour grading only subtly applied. Detail levels are excellent, and the real highlights of the film are the racing sequences, given a more realistic feel. They sound awesome as well, with the surround audio really immersing you in the action, while keeping the dialogue clear, and with the music suiting the film well.

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    You get one disc in a BD Amaray style case which boots to an animated menu.

    The sole extra on the disc is the Bringing the Rivalry to Life making of documentary in 8 parts, which in total runs to 59:52. One thing the documentary clearly shows is the quantity of scenes deleted from the film which should also have been put into the extras.

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    Normally when I see “Based on the true story...” plastered on a BD case, I tend to run for the hills, but not this time. Le Mans ’66 is a great film, telling a bit of history that wasn’t common knowledge prior to the publicity surrounding the film. The true story origins also gives the story a greater unpredictability compared to your usual sports movie, where you’d usually expect the underdog to win at the end. Here the twists and turns are unexpected, and not what you’d expect if someone was just spinning a yarn.

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    Yet there is still an element of an underdog story here, although it’s away from the sports side, and more a case of the little man versus big business. Even still, it’s the big corporations who set all this in motion, with Ford wanting to shed its archaic image, and instead present as a modern, relevant company. They quickly realise that they have to think outside the box to do so, and wind up looking outside of the company for people who can give them a Ferrari beating car.

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    That’s where Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles come in, both very similar in their approach to racing, but opposites when it comes to personalities. Anyone who has a passing interest in vintage sports cars will know of Carroll Shelby, best known for the AC Cobra and the collaboration with Ford on the Mustang. He was a man with the gift of the gab, able to talk himself into, or out of anything, a born salesman as well as a racing driver. For reasons that become apparent in the film, less people will have heard of Ken Miles, maybe even better when it comes to racing, and a skilled engineer, but who had a short fuse, and was light on people skills. Working together on the GT40, they would give Ford a car that could challenge for Le Mans.

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    That’s where the real battle is in this film, not on the racetrack, as the Ford executives have their public image in mind ahead of success, and while Carroll Shelby is the perfect advert for their company, the straight talking Ken Miles is not. There’s plenty of drama in Le Mans ’66, but there’s plenty of humour as well, while the racing sequences are truly edge-of-the-seat breathtaking.

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    It’s a great presentation of a recent film, and the added making of documentary is just as watchable, although it did leave me wishing that there had been deleted scenes as well. The Blu-ray is great, although at this juncture, cinephiles will be going for the 4kUHD.

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