The DVD issue of 1: Life on the Limit appeared not long after I reviewed it, following its limited cinema release a few months ago.
I was underwhelmed when I first saw the film and on second viewing I feel much the same as I did before – there’s too much superfluous detail, too many talking heads crammed in and some questionable editing choices have been made.
Manish Pandey said one of the greatest difficulties in creating Senna, the last F1 documentary feature, was cutting the film from an early two-and-a-half hour version to its final 100 minutes.
Watching 1: Life on the Limit again, it occurred to me this kind of discipline is exactly what was needed here. It’s crying out for a dry-eyed, unsentimental editor to hack away the superfluous stuff so its better parts – the excellent archive footage and the best of the interviews – can shine through.
That would also have left some more material for this disappointingly thin DVD and Blu-Ray offering. The only extras are the trailer and an interview with the film’s director Paul Crowder.
Somewhat frustratingly, in the interview Crowder mentions they conducted more interviews which did not make it into the final film. Those seem like obvious candidates for inclusion in this release, but they’re nowhere to be found.
He also describes how Bernie Ecclestone had to be courted to get the go-ahead for the project:
“The key to getting all these people was having Formula One Management’s support because the first question, no matter who you ask, is ‘does Bernie know and does Bernie approve?’ And if you answer ‘no’ then you’re not going to get question two out.”
This is quite telling, because another of the film’s shortcomings is how the narrative repeatedly wanders away from the central subject of safety in motor racing and turns into something resembling a polished sales pitch for modern Formula One.
It isn’t a bad film – Grand Prix: The Killer Years shows just how ugly things can get when a subject like this isn’t handled with due respect. I enjoyed 1: Life on the Limit in parts, but on the whole it falls disappointingly short of what it might have been.
The blurb on the box says the film “makes a great triple bill with Rush and Senna”. But there’s no mistaking this is the weakest of the three.
Read the original review of 1: Life on the Limit here:
F1 Fanatic rating
1: Life on the Limit Blu-Ray and DVD
Published: March 2014
Price: £25 (Blu-Ray), £20 (DVD)
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