For the 17th time this year, we have come to the end of the week. I just realised as I was typing that last sentence that in a couple of days I will be one-third of the way through this daft challenge. I think that means it’s time for a beer. So, will I go and get mildly likkered up, you can read all about this week’s Saturday Documentary. Spoiler warning: it’s a good ‘un.
I really want a motorcycle
Follow the men and women who devote their lives to the most famous and dangerous motorcycle road race in the world; a race that often costs them those very lives.
Let me just get this out of the way first: I’m not a petrolhead. The only experience I have with motor racing is watching Formula 1 on television, and I only do that when someone else has the remote. I make this point so that you will know there is no bias in my next statement: this film is fantastic. The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (the TT) is actually a series of five solo races (plus sidecar events) run over a week on the 37¾-mile course around the island. Each race uses a different class of bike and is usually six laps, or about 225 miles. 2012 is the 105th year of the race festival and in that time over 200 racers have died, an average of five for every mile of the course. Despite that sobering statistic, the festival just keeps getting more and more popular every year, and is far and away the Isle of Man’s single largest tourist attraction. Good luck finding a hotel room anywhere on the island between 28 May and 5 June every summer, let me put it that way.
This film was shot during and around the 2010 festival and focuses on a handful of riders, particularly Guy Martin and Ian Hutchinson, examining what it is that makes them risk their lives over and over again every year; the glory of victory and the compulsion of danger. Looking like Wolverine’s skinnier brother and with an almost impenetrable Lincolnshire accent, the charmingly shambolic Martin is easily the star of the show.
The movie was shot in 3D (hence the name) by commercials stalwart and first-time feature director Richard De Aragues and the camerawork is truly phenomenal. De Aragues and his cinematographer Thomas Kürzl employ static cameras, on-board cameras, news footage, helicopters and more, resulting in a film that is simply beautiful to watch even in only two dimensions (albeit on my shiny new hi-def LCD. That’s right kids, daddy’s upgraded). It features a sparse but effective narration from former teen idol turned rock star Jared Leto whose band 30 Seconds To Mars also provide the film’s title track. The music throughout is fantastic, ranging from the rock title song right through to some elegiac orchestral and choral pieces composed by Andy Gray.
I’m not one for excessive hyperbole or overarching superlatives, but any that you can come up with will suit this film. If you’re a race fan, see it. If you’re not a race fan, see it anyway. It might not convert you, but it is one hell of a way to spend 100 minutes.