Almost in breadth and depth of a documentary, this movie depicts an auto race during the 70s on the world's hardest endurance course: Le Mans in France. The race goes over 24 hours on 14.5 kilometers of cordoned country ro... more »ad. Every few hours the two drivers per car alternate - but it's still a challenge for concentration and material. In the focus is the duel between the German Stahler in Ferrari 512LM and the American Delaney in Gulf Team Porsche 917. Delaney is under extraordinary pressure, because the year before he caused a severe accident, in which his friend Lisa's husband was killed.« less
"The Le Mans 24 Hour Race is one of the most insane sporting events ever. "Le Mans" attempts to portray the excitement, the speed, the sound, and the surreal quality of the race, and yes, some of the boredom and stupidity as well.Steve McQueen is at his most restrained playing Michael Dalaney. Seldom has the professional racing drivers' mentality and single mindedness been shown with such clarity. Dalaney has respect for his colleagues, but no warmth towards them. Nothing is allowed to get in the way of the race itself, and importance of winning the race.There's a tiny, fragmented, rather strange sub-plot which features a beautiful widow from the previous year's race, if you are a generous viewer then this story seems to only enhance the single mindedness of the drivers. There's also a rivalry between Delaney and another driver. But again, the rivalry seems manufacturered as much by the media (shown at their most despicable) rather than any true emotion between the men concerned.The real stars of Le Mans are the brutal, beautiful sports racing cars of the early 1970s. several meet horrific ends in slow motion crashes that are simultanously beautiful and horrific to watch.Above all else, from the beginning to the end Le Mans has a surreal quality where speed and concentration result in all other aspects of 'real life' being forgotten. We're unlikely to get as honest a portrayal of professional motor racing ever again, and certainly not from Hollywood..."
THE GREATEST DOCUMENTARY of SPEED and LIFE AT THIS RACE
Mark Gilvey | Virginia, USA | 01/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've heard nothing but bad comments about this film from film critics for years and nothing but GREAT comments from everyone else. The critics pan it for it's lack of dialog or less than spectacular storyline. What they are not seeing is that this was not a film that was written with a story in mind-it's a film that was built around an audio-visual and emotional event first. The storyline/dialog was added afterwards. Like one reviewer here wrote: "WHO CARES ABOUT THE STORY".This film documents Les Vingt Quatre Heures Du Mans in the best possible way. It captures the pageantry, life, the speed and fury unlike any racing film I've ever seen (the only thing I can think of better, short of being a driver in the race, would be the release of the video game). It is the best documentary of what life at that circuit is like during those 24 hours-I know, I've been there.If you've ever wanted to go to Le Mans, BUY THIS VIDEO. If you've ever heard of Le Mans but don't really know about it BUY THIS VIDEO. If you're a NASCAR fan BUY THIS VIDEO-there really is more to life than just driving in ovals-lots more!Have an AWESOME day! Mark Gilvey THE UNOFFICIAL SPECTATOR"
A film for true race fans
Tina Morris | Rockville, MD USA | 03/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the classic race movies out there this is probably the most minimalistic and puristic one. Don't watch this movie for the rudimentary love story (if one can call it that way). Don't watch it for dialogue - Steve McQueen does not speak more than a 100 words in this film I would guess. Watch this movie for the breath-taking drama that develops in the pictures, since in racing a picture says definitely more than a 1000 words. The camera work is outstanding, and the story is built in a very detail-minded, documentary-type style that matches the coolness of McQueens persona. We see his charcter develop almost entirely in his actions, in the powerful flashback to an accident a year ago that he reflects upon as he returns to the same scene on the same track. As he drives to the track, stops his Porsche at the scene of the accident and stares back into the past, we begin to understand what kind of a racer he is .We see the quiet, yet passionate rivalry between him and his major competitor for the title in the Le Mans 24 hour race and we see his equally quiet interaction with the widow of the fellow driver who perished in that fateful accident. While personal interactions are very subdued, the true passion erupts on the race-track and this movie is superb in this regard. We see a generous and well-filmed display of the greatest prototypes and road-racers out there at the time. If you are a race-fan, you must see this movie, if you are not, you probably won't get it. As a race fan I give 5 stars."
One of the greatest racing films ever!
Andrew Mendelssohn | Charlotte, NC United States | 05/02/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"OK, how many of you are reading this review and will see this film because of its great dramatic reputation? Not many, I suppose. Le Mans is perhaps the truest film for pure racing, and racing fans. Along with Grand Prix, its perhaps one of the best films about racing ever done. There's very little dialog, and half of that is silly. There's a small attempt to add some drama, and this is put into context by the fact that Steve McQueen walks out on the girl to go back to the race....
McQueen plays an American driving for the Gulf Porsche team. His great rival is a German who drives for Ferrari, and evidently there was some drama between the two at the Nurburgring during a previous race. McQueen was also involved in a fatal accident the previous year, and its strongly implied he had a relationship with the driver's widow. She hangs around the pits of Le Mans almost like the angel of death, actually, until some attempt is made to insert romance in her relationship with McQueen.The dialog is sparse, which is probably just as well; if you see this film, watch it for the racing. No other film captures the speed and drama of real racing as well as Le Mans. Much of the footage came directly from the race and was perfectly edited into the film: it all plays smoothly. The rest of the footage was shot with real cars and real drivers at real speed, and it shows. The result is almost a documentary on Le Mans.
There's a famous quote from former driver and sometime commentator Sam Posey. He was asked what was the fastest he's ever driven, and he replied that it was around 235mph on the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans (formerly the longest straight in motorsports) driving a Porsche 917. The person comments on the speed of the car, and Posey says that he really wasn't sure exactly how fast the car was - it was still accelerating at the end of the straight! The point is that this film captures a good part of the awe and drama of the speed of the place. For anybody who loves racing, its not to be missed.
As to the DVD, the print has some small dirt specks and a little noise occasionally but is otherwise pretty good: the picture is nice and sharp, and color is quite good. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is perhaps one of the best remastering jobs on a 70's era film I've seen. Its not up to modern standards but its still really good.
So... 3 stars for the silly drama, 4 stars for the print and 5 stars for the racing. I'm guessing if your idea of racing is a bunch of loud cars going around in circles this isn't the film for you, but if you love it, this is an experience you'll enjoy and won't readily forget!"
...a real "driver's" film.
Roger | Chicago | 02/16/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Do you like driving? Do you like Porsches? If you answered yes to either, you'll like Le Mans. It is virtually a documentary on the Le Mans 24 Hour race. Plenty of great racing footage, a mixture of scenes shot for the movie and actual footage from the 1970 event. The prototype sports cars from this era are quite stunning, resembling vehicles from a science fiction movie (lots of Porsches!). They hired "real" racing drivers to drive the cars, along with Steve McQueen himself, also an avid racer. (Note: One of the drivers crashed during a practice session and lost a leg; i.e., no "smoke and mirrors" here, this is the real thing.)On the other hand, if you answered no to the questions above, there is little in this movie for you. The acting is pretty weak. There is a faint attempt to draw the viewer into the human drama of racing. I don't think most "non racers" will be captivated by any of this."