Ford v Ferrari was one of the biggest surprises of 2019 and it even picked up two sound and film editing Oscars. There are quite a few interesting facts many viewers may not know too since the complexity of this true-life story runs deep. Now on Blu-ray and 4K Ultra audiences can enjoy this film from the comforts of home. The tricky thing though is whether or not it’s worth a purchase especially when you can get it digitally.
This a review of the Blu-ray which offers just one of the extras featured on the 4K Ultra version. Thankfully, it’s one of the more robust extras available with nearly an hour-long “Bringing The Rivalry to Life” documentary. This is a relatively typical featurette we’ve seen made during the production of the film with one on one diary entries from the main actors and director speaking to aspects of the film like character, production design, and more. One aspect I enjoyed in this documentary is how it cuts behind the camera shots of the actors reading key lines from the film and then cutting directly to the lines we see in the movie. It adds a behind the scenes element that makes it feel like we’re peeling back the curtain to see how it was all made. I will admit this documentary doesn’t get too into the weeds of production–and a lot of what the actors say is face value stuff–but it’s well made and interesting enough.
The film itself is excellent and worthy of an Oscar nomination. This was a film I kicked myself for not seeing in the theater as the close-ups on the race cars in action and the sounds of the road truly deserve the big screen to fully enjoy. That said, the narrative is quite strong and it’s rather obvious director and producer James Mangold was instrumental in putting the characters first in this narrative. Matt Damon (Carroll Shelby) and Christian Bale (Ken Miles) each have character arcs that are satisfying and interesting. Shelby, for instance, opens the film unable to race anymore due to his heart but finds a thrill and joy in managing a team. Miles meanwhile, is fighting his own stubbornness and his beliefs and learns to play the game to win the war. It’s an interesting time for race car driving and while internationally Le Mans and the famous 1966 race is historic as an American much of this was new to me.
It’s also an interesting look at how, no matter the sport, the greats are always pushing the envelope and trying to maximize efficiency. I think anyone can relate to the film thanks to Miles’ drive to perfect every lap or how Shelby is trying to let a maestro do his work while corporate or outside influences attempt to sway him. In that is a camaraderie that’s interesting to see develop.
The film doesn’t quite manage to capture the feel of the times though. We all know the 60s was a fascinating decade thanks to shows like Mad Men, but here you don’t get a feel for the era outside of costumes and setting. That might be due to the film staying away from politics or domestic issues as it focuses more on corporations ruling with an iron fist and underdogs doing their best to navigate the system. Apparently, Ford distanced itself from this film because some of their most important executives are depicted here as somewhat villainous, which is an interesting angle to take these days with corporations running the show. That said, the documentary points out there’s a juxtaposition of the hippy era of the 60s in California and the corporate landscape of Ford at the time that is completely lost here.
Overall, this is a great film to own thanks to the great racecar driving scenes and strong character story. The Blu-ray hour-long documentary is good, but I’d wager you should fork over the extra dough for the additional extra features not available here.