Photo: Motor Sport Images
WHERE TO WATCH:
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
The ultimate documentary of Formula 1 icon Michael Schumacher. The film features rare interviews and previously unreleased archive footage and traces a very sensitive and critical portrait of the seven-time world champion. This is the only film supported by his family.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
The world of Formula 1 is notoriously secretive. Everything from the powerful cars to driver negotiations happens behind closed doors. That’s partly why the Netflix docu-series Drive to Survive is such a success – it gives unprecedented access to the high-octane world of the highest class of international motorsport.
If you are hoping that the Schumacher documentary does the same, let me manage your expectations straight away. Although a well-made portrait of one of F1’s greatest drivers in history, the film does not reveal anything we don’t already know. In fact, I’d go as far as to so we might even know more than the film is willing to show.
Schumacher is the only film approved by his family, and with that comes its biggest challenge. Michael’s family is notoriously private, and they aren’t compromising on that. As Michael’s wife, Corinna, says on camera: “Michael protected us, now we are protecting him.” Michael deeply disliked being in the spotlight and craved a normal life which was impossible for someone of his stature. The film stays neatly within that line.
The nearly two-hour documentary stretches from Michael’s kart racing days as a youngster to his skiing accident in 2013. While his father, Rolf, and brother, Ralf, give insight into the racing legend’s humble beginnings, the accident is merely mentioned at the end with no update on his current condition except for: “He’s still here, but not the same.”
The tragic death of Brazilian F1 driver Ayrton Senna is covered broadly, however, and includes the tense rivalry between Senna and Schumacher that played off leading up to the deadly crash in 1994 at the San Marino Grand Prix.
Perhaps the most poignant moment in the film is when 22-year-old Haas F1 driver and son of Michael, Mick Schumacher, talks about his relationship with his father and how he would have loved to be able to talk to him now about motorsport as he follows in his iconic dad’s footsteps. “It’s so unfair, that I can’t,” he says.
Schumacher is a polished picture of Michael Schumacher’s career. It highlights his biggest challenges and how he overcame it with raw talent and sheer determination. He’s undoubtedly one of the greatest drivers of all time, and the film shows all the ups and downs he went through to rewrite the F1 history books. For fans, it will be a fitting tribute, but it’s not an in-depth documentary. It lacks real investigation, cold hard facts, stats and data, and real raw emotions. It’s all too neat and perhaps even censored.
The German racer who brought Ferrari back to life holds seven World Drivers’ Championship titles, 91 wins, 68 pole positions, 155 podium finishes, and 77 fastest laps. Sadly, these numbers are never mentioned in the film, and the full picture of his success stories are hidden between cherry-picked highlights that fail to link the timeline together.
Schumacher will be a satisfying watch for fans of motor racing, but like its subject matter, it’s shy to truly open or reveal too much.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:
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