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  • HUNT VS. LAUDA recalls the titanic battle for the drivers' championship in 1976, when Lauda endured a horrific accident that nearly killed him, returned to the racing fray, yet was finally pipped at the post by James Hunt at the Japanese Grand Prix. On a day of torrential rain, Lauda withdrew from the race on safety grounds, leaving Hunt a free run-in to finish third and claim the title.

    The documentary is constructed round a familiar binary opposition, with the hedonistic fun-loving Brit Hunt contrasted with the Teutonic seriousness of Lauda. Lauda spent most of his time concentrating on the mechanics of his car, making sure that everything worked properly before each race; Hunt, on the other hand, led a playboy existence of wine, women and song. It was not uncommon to see him in the arms of yet another girl at some high society party.

    Hunt, it seemed, liked to play up to this stereotype; whenever he was interviewed, he replied with the kind of flip answers expected of someone who thought of himself as a gentleman amateur. In fact, this was extremely far from the truth: through interviews with those who knew him, we learn that he always experienced considerable physical and emotional strain whenever he got behind the wheel. To him motor racing was a life-and-death struggle, where he could only survive by demonstrating mastery of his vehicle. This attitude was ironic in view of what happened in the 1976 season, when it was Lauda, rather than Hunt, who experienced a brush with death.

    Lauda is still very much around; he recalled that during the season he became jealous of Hunt's media reputation, especially when Lauda himself appeared so over-serious in front of the camera. Hunt was the media's darling; not just the British media, but most of the European media as well. Yet perhaps this superficial attractiveness was not what really mattered: HUNT VS. LAUDA makes it clear that driver proficiency was the only passport to ultimate success.

    The 1976 season was perhaps the first in motor racing history to attract extensive media attention. The Japanese Grand Prix was broadcast live via satellite worldwide; from then on, most races during subsequent championship seasons were given similar treatment.

    HUNT VS. LAUDA tells a familiar tale, one which often elides character subtleties in favor of a binarist opposition between the two drivers. Nonetheless it is a useful contribution to mid- Seventies sporting history.
  • Prismark1023 February 2014
    Hot on the heels on the film Rush, here is a BBC documentary chronicling the rivalry between Hunt and Lauda in that fateful 1976 Formula season that had a profound effect on both their lives.

    It is a riveting documentary mixing archive footage (some footage newly discovered) with new interviews. It is also aimed at the general viewer, so there is a lot of explanations for the novice including explaining the points scoring system.

    It also goes for the old stereotypes as well. Lauda is driven, efficient, getting the best out of the team and this all done with Kraftwerk singing Autobahn!

    Hunt is the good time playboy. The reckless Hunt the shunt, who hits the big time by getting a drive with Mclaren. He falls behind to Lauda as the Austrian amasses a big points tally until his horrendous accident.

    Although the tale is familiar and been told previously it is still told in an thrilling way.
  • I have enjoyed this documentary over and over in the past 6 years in one of the original versions. The documentary had TV interviews and extra information cut out as well as song changes which is a shame as it spoils it for me. If you can find an original version then I would recommend this highly especially if you want kids to see the story but not watch Rush. Current version is still good but not quite as good
  • This documentary focuses exclusively on the 1976 Formula 1 championship which resulted in a single-point margin of victory. Along the way the various controversies and Lauda's famous crash are discussed. Much of the documentary consists of old footage--some of which (particularly the crash) is in rather sad and grainy shape. This is to be expected. Additionally, a variety of folks are interviewed to tell this mildly interesting story.

    "Hunt vs Lauda" is a very good documentary. However, with the film "Rush" coming out the same year and covering the same ground you have to decide which to see...or perhaps both. Which you pick might just depend on what you're looking for in a film. If you want concise and brief, this documentary is best. If you want a dramatization of the story and want more details (as well as Chris Hemsworth's butt), then you'd pick the big box office version. Either way, they essentially talk about the same things.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I first saw the Ron Howard movie "RUSH", which is a dramatic presentation, with actors playing the roles, of the 1976 Formula 1 racing season. It is a very good movie and from all I could learn also very accurate.

    So after that I came across this one, on Netflix streaming movies. It is the documentary, using real footage from 1976. We get to see the real Niki Lauda and the real James Hunt. And we realize how well the movie "RUSH" portrayed them.

    There really isn't much more to learn by seeing the documentary, but it is great seeing the real drivers, and the real crash that almost killed Lauda. Hunt died rather young in his 40s. But Lauda is still going strong, and this film also contains many snippets of interviews with him in current days.

    Overall a must-see for racing fans, the battle for Champion of the racing season that came down to the last race in the rain in Japan.