Review: 'Schumacher' (2021) Dirs. Hanns-Bruno Kammertöns, Vanessa Nöcker & Michael Wech
30 years from when young German racing driver Michael Schumacher arrived on the Formula One circuit, this family-backed documentary charts the highs and lows of his remarkable life...
An unrivalled champion on the Formula One racing circuit, Michael Schumacher has striven for perfection in his career. Since starting his F1 career at Belgium in 1991, new driver Schumacher rose from strength to strength to be the best of the best, taking his first win aged just 23 one year after his debut race.
This documentary helps break down the man who is seen as a machine on track; we see how his family means more to him than anything and the relationships off the track who have all helped make the man now associated with the iconic red Ferrari F1 livery.
Away from the thrill of racing, you see and hear how Schumacher truly felt about his rivals and how he always looked up to them and what pushed him. Interviews and press clips from his early career paint a picture of the young go-kart racer focused on racing as a career. Growing up, we see small moments like how the press took away some of the joy for him when all he wanted to do was race and be involved in the sport he loved, and the rivalry from those racers who saw him as a threat and a wild card, especially the late, great Ayrton Senna, culminating in tragedy at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix .
For sports / F1 fans, this has a wealth of interviews with key names in the F1 world such as former racers Mika Häkkinen, Mark Webber, David Coulthard and Damon Hill, pit-crew, car mechanics, journalists and managers all who share their experience with Schumacher on the circuit, and what went on behind the scenes. There is so much footage here from over the years; home videos to TV broadcasts and crew video, all painting a picture of the highs and lows faced on (and off) the dangerous, emotional race track at his peak during the 1990s and to retirement in 2007 (and comeback in 2010). We see moments such as near fatal crashes and his emotional breakdown at the 2000 Italian press conference when he equalled Senna's record. These moments will spark many memories for those watching who grew up with F1 either through their interest or from parents / grandparents.
While this will be necessary viewing for Formula One fans, especially those of Schumacher himself, this isn't just about racing - it's a heartfelt look at who and what makes Schui the champ he is.
Away from that, we have a few personal moments shared by wife Corinna, brother Ralf and father Rolf to shed light on the father / husband / brother / son who took great risk to make those around him proud, and inspire those who look up to him, much like his daughter Gina and son Mick. While his tragic skiing accident acts more as a footnote to the documentary, that can be understandable as this has been an awful, life changing time for the Schumacher family. His private recovery has been kept out of the media, and so too here it is not focused on in great detail, but what we have seen shows how much he fights to overcome, and continues to do so.
Directors Hanns-Bruno Kammertöns, Vanessa Nöcker and Michael Wech clearly understand what makes a documentary work in terms of pacing, pathos and celebration. Without narration, the footage and imagery tells the story itself that many will have never seen before with an often exciting soundtrack to accompany the race clips. There is a lot of archive material on offer for just under 2hrs along with personal home videos, proving that this truly has been backed by the Schumacher family to celebrate the man in question and his career.
In equal measure we look at thrills on and off the track, the emotion when and when not racing, and the power of family and friendship in the face of life-changing moments; something we can all relate to and take inspiration from, and fully respect seeing it play out on screen.
One for the fans of F1 racing without a doubt, shedding new light on a true legend in the world of sport who represents what it means to live life on the edge, laced with tragedy but never being defeated in the face of adversity.
'Schumacher' is a B14 Film production