on 3 September 2003
Steve was an accomplished racing driver and his Porsche 908 was entered in le mans '70 to gain the on board driving sequences at the start (although he was not allowed to drive). When the film was made in '71 Steve drove another Porasche against 41 international drivers filming for 5 months on location. There is little story, its about a race and the people in it such as Steve who is playing a driver injured the year before. Non race fans may not like it, but cleaned up with 5.1 sound, the music, the cars, some real footage and fantastic filmed driving sequences, no other film has ever or will ever capture the emotion and atmosphere of racing let alone '71 le mans with Porsche 917K's and other cars of that era. I have been waiting for this movie for a long time. (its been out on video in the states for years).
I recommend the book "A French Kiss With Death", it covers Steve's career, Le Mans history, the cars and how this movie was made. In fact, I think I'll put it on again....
Is there a better film made about motor racing? I doubt it. Due to it's age, it is a fascinating snapshot of the period of LeMans racing before daft chicanes where put into the Mulsanne Straight, and racers were real heroes putting their life on the line. Forget all about the weak love interest story that pops up now and again, this is a high octane fuel, retro cool, boys movie. None of the actors in the film actually speak anything for the 1st half an hour or so, (the cars engines do the talking) until McQueen at his 1st pitstop mentions to his co-driver "watch out for the red Lola". The sound of the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512 engines has to be heard to be believed. The sight and sound of the leading longtail 917 heading past maison blanche as the camara pulls back just after the start of the race, is awsome. McQueen is of course peerless whose style and screen presence defined an era. By the end of this film you will want to be Steve himself, just don't try to emulate his driving in your Mondeo! Slip the disc in the player, turn up the volume and send the partner down the pub. This film is so cool it hurts.
on 8 August 2011
If I'm honest, I don't think Blu-ray brings too much to the picture quality, but the sound (even just through the TV's speakers) is pretty awesome!!
The story line might not be for all - over 30 minutes before anyone speaks, but if you like watching sports car racing, this is for you. Oh, and Steve McQueen - what else could you want!
on 9 July 2003
You'll either love Le Mans or hate it. It all depends on whether you love the feel and atmosphere of motor racing. This film perfectly captures that emotion. Hardened Steve McQueen fans will be pleased to see this film available, but be moan the lack of extras.
The story itself is not terribly original. Take away the cars and you have a classic sexual tension story whereby a relationship is developing between a widow and the man, albeit innocently, involved in her husband's death. This is not the point however ... the point is to see the cars in action, the story is just there to ensure some drama away from the action, but in truth it doesn't need it. The sight of dozens of thoroughbred 70s sports-racing cars overcoming the challenges of the 8 miles of the Le Mans road circuit is utterly compelling.
The opening 30 minutes are the best in my opinion. The gradual build up to the race and the start itself. The scenes of the Loire countryside are magnificent and very evocative, and as the day of the race continues, the anticipation grows until the fall of the Tricoleur to signify the start.
The 5.1 sound is good and worth the price of the DVD alone if you love the sound of a Porshe 917. The picture transfer is good too, but then it needs to be as there are no extras whatsoever - no trailers, no commentaries, no documentaries, nothing.
And it is this lack of extras that will affect this DVD most. Le Mans, the race, is such an institution it is a great shame that no one bothered to pull together even the most meagre of documentaries on the history and the film's place in that.
on 14 July 2003
If you like pure speed without Hollywood's over the top car stunts there are only two movies that count; Steve McQueen's 'BULLITT', and Steve McQueen's 'LE MANS'.
Now at long last McQueen's Seminal movie of the 24hour race 'Le Mans' joins 'Bullitt' on DVD. It was never as far as I know on vhs so this is the first time we have been able to get our hands on it apart from taping off the telly. This is however in glorious 2.35:1 panavision, and not old tv square vision.
Sound is Dolby 5.1.The print has been cleaned up and is fantastic.
It would have been nice to have had a 'making of' and maybe a history of the Le Mans 24hour race. But then the lower price takes this into account.
There are no extras other than extra sound tracks for Italian, French, German & Spanish. Subtitles are in English, Dutch, Portuguese, French and Greek.
My advice is BUY IT, draw the curtains, get a couple of cans, slouch in an armchair, put on the headphones and hit the volume to hear those glorious Porsche engines and wrap yourself up in an on the limit high speed run through the french countryside for 1hour 44minutes ( includes time for a tea break while Steve chats-up the lovely Elga Andersen).
Le Mans should carry a public heath warning its such a breath taking thrill:
DO NOT DRIVE YOUR CAR AFTER WATCHING THIS MOVIE. You will: a/ get a speeding ticket, b/have an accident, c/end up in jail, D/a,b & c will happen.
You have been warned.
But all the better for it. Ironic considering the subject matter, but these paradoxes have a habit of working. Such is the case here. Le Mans is a classic. I'm not sure if I could say it has a story as such, but a multitude of small stories based on individual relationshps. Excellent performances are given by the entire cast, despite the relatively sparse dialogue. And that is a real compliment -to be believeable with little dialouge is far harder than with a volumnous script.
One thing that Le Mans does is provide quite an interesting, and realistic snap-shot of GT racing in the early 1970s. It is superbly shot, sensibly directed, with some spectacular footage (and crashes). Very good. The DVD doesn't have many extras. That doesn't particularly bother me, as I rarely bother, though some of you might be a little disapointed. A few would have added the icing on the cake.
The picture is a little grainy, but has beeen captured well for the DVD, and adds to the period feel anyway. The sound is excellent, though the levels could do with a little bit of a boost. Minor quibble. It feels real, because to a large part it was, and as such, is a mandatory purchase for any motor racing fan. Some see it as a boys own film -it's not though. There's more depth to it than that. It's not expensive either, so it's well worth aquiring.
on 31 May 2003
This is one of the all time great car racing films.
The car racing scenes are some of the best ever filmed.
It doesn't have a great dialogue but its a must for all Le Mans
racing enthusiasts and petrol heads!
on 4 August 2004
There have been many films that purport to be about this sport, but only this film and Grand Prix (1966) are written by those who have a love and feel for the sport. Le Mans simply oozes understanding of sports-car racing from every pore, and is evangelical in its wish to share the romance of Le Mans, and its immortal protaganists of 1970, the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512. The only thing wrong with this film is that it was aimed at too narrow an audience to be a commercial success, and preached to the converted, but as a monument to the passion of Steve McQueen for his subject, and as a film that understood motor racing, it has no equal.
on 24 June 2012
Firstly let's discuss the disc and the picture and sound transfer.
Remember this film is now over 40yrs old, but it has a timeless quality about it ,and those expecting a gripping story full of dialogue as in most other McQueen films may be disappointed.
This film is from an era when the Mulsanne Straight was left fully untamed, and once competitors had cleared the SSS and Dunlop curve it was a totally brutal top speed assault to Arnage and finally Maisane Blanc.
Another DVD well worth comparing to Le Man, is Derek Bells "In Car 956", which magnificently captures the speed of the Muslanne straight in the 1983 Le Man.
The film gives a great feeling of what driving at the limit in a 917k was really like, and it was perfectly clear why the specially produced Porche 917 LH or Langhek long tail was so much faster.
Watch the first few laps where car number 25 the one of only three 917 LH models left the standard short tailed 917K for dead.
Along with the Martine liveried LH and the famous Hippie Car 917 LH, these very unstable 917 racers were built specifically for outright speed on the Muslanne straight, they were around 15mph faster than the famous Gulf liveried cars, but because of their very tail happy driving characteristics they were removed from competition, leaving the now famous 917 short tail to conquer everyone before them.
Enough of the history lesson, what's the BluRay like.
The film really is all about the mighty battle between the Ferrari 512 and Porche 917 with the majority of the action filmed during the 1970 Le Man race, there is really no storyline to the film other than following the race during it's 24hrs.
The picture quality of the BluRay is pretty decent with the majority of the film in excellent clarity with great contrasts, but it is in the sound department that this film excells.
Right at the start of the race where the clock is about to turn to 4pm the instantaneous start of engines and roar of cars racing away is tremendous.
When McQueen primes his fuel pumps and flicks a few switches on the dashboard of his Gulf Porche, you can hear everything in slowmotion so to speak but the cinematography and excitement of cars hurtling down the Mulsanne straight at well over 200mph is impressive indeed,so impressive that one forgets the age of the film, it has not dated one little bit.
Cameras were placed at such a close proximity to the road that the sense of speed of race cars hurtling by just feet away is mighty impressive, as is the location of cameras onboard both Porche and Ferrari.
Cameras were positioned in such a way to achieve a particular shot that according to the bonus material on the disc cars became unstable at speed, but the close up shots make up for the superb camera angles of the tussle between Ferrari and Porche.
Maybe it's not the kind of film you watch time and time again for a gripping story but if you enjoy motorsport of that particular era the film cannot fail.
The action and car incidents when they happen are extremely realistic and one could be forgiven in thinking you were watching a modern day classic race meeting like they hold at Le Man throughout the year.
A very interesting background making of the film is included as part of the extras on the disc with interviews with Derek Bell and Steve McQueens son.
For all those petrolheads out there with your dreams of race driver stardom just ponder on this.
Steve McQueen did the majority of the driving in the Gulf Porche himself, and once the film was over went on to own the Porche 917K that he drove in the film.
During the filming Steves young son who then was around 6yrs old was allowed to attend the fiming of the race during the 1970 Le Man main race.
On one occasion whilst driving the Porche, Steve McQueen noticed his son showing emense interest in what was going on, so he slowed down the car opened the drivers door to the racecar and allowed his son to sit on his lap.
Off they went at restrained but still considerable speed down the main roads of Le man, and to this day McQueens son recounts the sheer ecceleration of the Porche 917K.
In the bonus extra we see him relive that experience by driving the very car his father used to own, car number 20, the same one he drove in the film.
Le Man still ranks as one of the classic race films and at just under £7 it represents a great way of reliving an era when Porche was dominant.
on 12 December 2015
A very good film that becomes magical if you immerse yourself in it and not just watch it; so banish all noise in the house and other sorts of distraction, sit down in your favourite chair with your favourite beverage and take yourself away with it.
Whether like me you are old enough for this to be nostalgia or whether this is history on the screen it's a fascinating portrayal of a time when there were very few safety considerations, for the crowds as well as the mechanics and drivers, and the cars were much simpler and raw. It takes me back to the 1970s, standing on earth banks at Brands Hatch feeling the ground vibrate under F1 or GT Cars.
We could get a bit picky: the continuity goes a bit off after the 'unfortunate incident'; the script and acting consists mainly of meaningful looks and someone deciding whether they would like a cup of coffee but these are small points compared to the action scenes and tremendous on-track and in-car filming. The sound reproduction on the BluRay is fantastic. My favourite clips were at the start where we first see and hear the 917 into and through the S de la Foret curves and in the rain watching the 917 twitching under breaking at the Mulsanne hairpin and sliding as it accelerates away; perhaps I should get out more.
Not quite the all-round entertainment of Senna and sometimes when watching I want to shout "Get on with it" but a solid film to relax with; perhaps it is defined by the line "..... and you can out-brake the Ferrari".