A vivid, detailed account of the career of a famous racing driver from New Zealand.



Asif Kapadia is a brilliant director but the huge success that he had when Senna was released in 2011 was in part due to the fact that the Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna who died at the age of 34 had been such a fascinating and extraordinary man. You did not have to interested in the sport as such to be intrigued by his story. If, superficially, this new documentary McLaren would suggest a companion piece being about another   such driver, the New Zealander Bruce McLaren who also died young (in his case at the age of 32 in 1970), it needs to be said at once that McLaren does not have the same wide-ranging appeal. But that is not to suggest that it is other than a highly competent film and one that will engross the right viewers.


Unexpectedly, McLaren is the work of the veteran director Roger Donaldson, not somebody associated with documentaries. His film does contain some scenes with actors, but they are played down making them very much part and parcel of a feature that essentially combines new interview footage with substantial newsreel material and some home movies. What Donaldson brings to this is the ability, alongside his editor Tim Woodhouse, to make the film move well and fast. There is some family background regarding McLaren's parents and covering such matters as his hospitalisation at the age of ten with an illness that left him with one leg shorter than the other. Later on we learn about his marriage and the birth of a daughter. Even so, McLaren is much more about his career than about his personal life.


That leaves plenty of material since his career encompassed not only his increasing success as a driver who would attain international fame but also his work as a designer of cars and his skills in managing the McLaren Motor Racing Team. Comments from his former colleagues and others are important here and in some cases were obtained in the nick of time (no less than three interviewees seen here including Bruce McLaren's wife have died since then). The music is a shade too obvious and Donaldson does rather hang on at the close (although there is a choice last shot after the end credits). Nevertheless, this able film should appeal to all admirers of motor racing and of the sport's leading figures of whom Bruce McLaren was indubitably one. In addition, for New Zealanders there is the extra attraction of seeing a movie about one of their countrymen who has become something of a legend.




Featuring  Phil Kerr, Chris Amon, Alastair Caldwell, Mario Andretti, Eoin Young, Patty McLaren-Brickett, Wally Willmott, Dan Gurney, Lothan Motshchenbacher, Howden Ganley.


Dir Roger Donaldson, Pro Fraser Brown and Matthew Metcalfe, Screenplay James Brown, Matthew Metcalfe and Tim Woodhouse, from a story by Matthew Metcalfe and Glenn Standing, Ph David Paul, Ed Tim Woodhouse, Music David Long, Costumes Liz McGregor.


FB Pictures/General Film Corporation-Munro Film Services.
89 mins. New Zealand. 2016. Rel: 19 May 2017. Cert. 12A.