Weekend of a Champion

I stumbled across this on Netflix and had to watch it becaue it was about Formula 1 and Jackie Stewart.

It was directed by Roman Polanski who is a good friend of Jackie’s, and was filmed over the course of the 1971 Monaco GP weekend.

It followed Jackie as he prepared for the race, with plenty of behind the scenes footage which was fascinating to watch. There was footage of him talking to his engineers about car setup, talking with other drivers including Graham Hill, Francois Cevert (Jackie’s teammate, who died two years later), and to Roman himself.

The trackside and in-car footage was good to see. Jackie had a 16 mm camera in the car with him which gave some great footage as he screamed around the circuit during practice. The cars in those days looked fragile and lacked basic driver safety, so those drivers were truly brave and slightly nuts. Both Chris Amon and Denny Hulme were in the race also (both NZ drivers).

The almost total lack of safety was clearly evident. Jackie was at the time trying to get Formula 1 safety improved, and it was his efforts that have made F1 as safe as it is today. But, in this documentary you can see track marshals, photographers, and other people right on the side of the track during the race, with absolutely no barrier between them and the cars which in places were passing by only a metre or so away.

As this is Monaco there were plenty of celebrities around, and in the after-race dinner we saw Ringo Starr, Joan Collins, Grace Kelly, and Prince Rainer.

After this premiered in 1972 it had a small release then was forgotten for 40 years. Roman rediscovered it, recut it, and it was re-released in 2013. Roman added some present day footage shot in the same hotel room where Jackie and his wife stayed during the 1971 race weekend. He talked with Jackie about the race, his work on F1 safety, Jackie’s dyslexia, and sideburns.

This is really only for Jackie Stewart and Formula 1 fans, of which I am both so I enjoyed it. For others it might be a bit dull.

Date watched: December 4th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 138

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