Ford v Ferrari trailer: Maybe Hollywood got racing right this time

We now have a slightly better idea of what the movie “Ford v Ferrari” will be like when it lands on the big screen Nov. 15. Mega-studio 20th Century Fox released a trailer for its big-budget historical racing thriller that covers the rivalry between Ford and Ferrari at Le Mans 53 years ago. The movie is set for release in November, and the publicity for it has begun in earnest with the release of the first theatrical trailer.

The one-sentence press release that came a few days before the trailer was breathless, as movie press releases usually are:

“Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in the upcoming film ‘FORD v FERRARI’ from 20th Century Fox, the remarkable true story of the visionary American car designer Carroll Shelby (Damon) and the fearless British driver Ken Miles (Bale), who together battled corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford Motor Company and take on the dominating race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.

The key phrase in there might be, “…the remarkable true story…” It’s often hard to make something both remarkable and true. True-to-life would be good. Accurate would be even better. But we don’t know yet how close it will be to the real story.

Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby

Christian Bale as Ken Miles

Christian Bale as Ken Miles. Looks like Willow Springs!

Christian Bale as Ken Miles

Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as Ken Miles

You already know the story: Henry Ford II wanted to beat Ferrari and win Le Mans at any cost, so he hired maverick racer-turned-team-owner Carroll Shelby to get the job done. Shelby knew racing, and he knew racers, so he hired the best in the business and, with unlimited funds from Ford, went to work. We know how it ended in the real world, and we won’t spoil the ending for those more casual race fans who don’t, but the question is, how close will this movie get to what really happened? And what will be left out?

There are promising signs that the filmakers might have gotten close to what really happened. For instance, brilliant fabricator Phil Remington has a role, played by actor Ray McKinnon. The real Remington was the one who could figure out and fix any number of problems on race cars. It was “Rem” who hammered out the Gurney Bubble on the 1967 Ford GT40, for instance. His inclusion as a character is promising, even though we don’t know yet how prominent that character will be in the plot.

An actor named Tracy Letts plays Henry Ford II and and Jon Bernthal plays Lee Iacocca. Then there’s scheming Ford PR guy Leo Beebe, who is played by Josh Lucas. And while we don’t know how big his part is yet, it looks like the real Alex Gurney plays his dad, Dan. The inclusion of all these characters suggests that the filmakers may have gotten the story right.

“This is David vs. Goliath vs. Goliath,” Christian Bale told theplaylist.net. “You’ve got the industrial Goliath with Ford and the charismatic Goliath of reputation with Ferrari, and then this true story of the triumph of the misfits.”

Director James Mangold described the film as “Butch and Sundance in the world of racing,” and said, “This is much more of a relationship movie and less a historical document.”

Mangold also described keeping the racing scenes realistic. “I wanted to see a racing film where the cars weren’t all digital creations [and] we were really out there on the track. And not just so we could talk about it when we’re doing press, but because it actually makes a physical difference when you see it on screen.”

And you’ll be able to see it on screen Nov. 15.

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