Documentary Review: ‘The 24 Hour War’

Greetings again from the darkness. This is a war documentary, but it’s not about Vietnam or Afghanistan. Instead, it’s the story of the war of pride and ego between Henry Ford and Enzo Ferrari. Their war took place in garages, in factories and finally on the streets of Le Mans. This clash of race car giants took place in the early 1960’s at a time when drivers were truly risking their life every time they got behind the wheel.

Many of us have heard and read about Henry Ford’s failed attempt to buy Ferrari’s company, but this film from directors Nate Adams and Adam Carrolla goes much deeper. They even help us connect the dots between the personal rivalry and the development of the legendary Ford GT40.

One of the interesting aspects is the contrast and comparison between the two companies. Ford, and its seemingly endless resources, going up against the small Ferrari group that was barely making ends meet … and sometimes not even able to do that. But the real treasure here is the stream of interviews with those who were there. We hear from racing legends such as Bob Bondurant, Mario Andretti, Peter Brock and Dan Gurney. There is historical video footage of Carroll Shelby in the early days of the Cobra and Ford GT40, and additional perspective is provided by Henry Ford III and race historian Brian Laban.

Documenting the golden age of racing is an admirable undertaking, and the filmmakers have done a very nice job. There are some incredible clips of the early 24 Hours of Le Mans races, and special note is provided for the historical 1966 race when Ford finished 1-2-3. While that didn’t sit well with Enzo, it’s fascinating to realize just what an important role that racing played in the development of the passenger cars that we drive even today.

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