1: Life on the Limit

1: Life on the Limit Blu-Ray and DVD reviewed


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The DVD issue of 1: Life on the Limit appeared not long after I reviewed it, following its limited cinema release a few months ago.

I was underwhelmed when I first saw the film and on second viewing I feel much the same as I did before – there’s too much superfluous detail, too many talking heads crammed in and some questionable editing choices have been made.

Manish Pandey said one of the greatest difficulties in creating Senna, the last F1 documentary feature, was cutting the film from an early two-and-a-half hour version to its final 100 minutes.

Watching 1: Life on the Limit again, it occurred to me this kind of discipline is exactly what was needed here. It’s crying out for a dry-eyed, unsentimental editor to hack away the superfluous stuff so its better parts – the excellent archive footage and the best of the interviews – can shine through.

That would also have left some more material for this disappointingly thin DVD and Blu-Ray offering. The only extras are the trailer and an interview with the film’s director Paul Crowder.

Somewhat frustratingly, in the interview Crowder mentions they conducted more interviews which did not make it into the final film. Those seem like obvious candidates for inclusion in this release, but they’re nowhere to be found.

He also describes how Bernie Ecclestone had to be courted to get the go-ahead for the project:

“The key to getting all these people was having Formula One Management’s support because the first question, no matter who you ask, is ‘does Bernie know and does Bernie approve?’ And if you answer ‘no’ then you’re not going to get question two out.”

This is quite telling, because another of the film’s shortcomings is how the narrative repeatedly wanders away from the central subject of safety in motor racing and turns into something resembling a polished sales pitch for modern Formula One.

It isn’t a bad film – Grand Prix: The Killer Years shows just how ugly things can get when a subject like this isn’t handled with due respect. I enjoyed 1: Life on the Limit in parts, but on the whole it falls disappointingly short of what it might have been.

The blurb on the box says the film “makes a great triple bill with Rush and Senna”. But there’s no mistaking this is the weakest of the three.

Read the original review of 1: Life on the Limit here:

F1 Fanatic rating

Rating three out of five

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1: Life on the Limit Blu-Ray and DVD

Publisher: Studiocanal
Published: March 2014
Price: £25 (Blu-Ray), £20 (DVD)


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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 12 comments on “1: Life on the Limit Blu-Ray and DVD reviewed”

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      27th April 2014, 12:40

      If I’m honest I didn’t really like Rush either. I first saw it only a couple of months ago, and I felt kind of underwhelmed after all the hype and praise it recieved. It wasn’t a bad movie by any means, but it often felt kind of corny sometimes; as if Ron Howard was trying too hard to force the complexity of F1 into a feature film.

      ‘Senna’ though, that was truly breath taking. It made me cry, lol, and in not usually a highly emotional person.

      1. I watched Rush for the first time last night by chance, I loved it, thought the casting was superb and it gave a really good look at how the main characters interacted and contradicted each other.
        For me, one of the best F1 films.

        1. Though, because it is a Hollywood film, it starts from the incorrect premise that Lauda and Hunt didn’t like one another, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

      2. Big difference is, that Rush is a movie and Senna a documentary.
        I really really liked both. They did a fantastic job on rush (only bad thing about the whole movie was the cgi on the f2? crash, all the rest super)

    2. Oh dear, I just ordered this, perhaps I shouldn’t have. :( Hopefully it won’t be too bad, the archive footage should be worth it in itself but the lack of extras is criminal. They seem to have interviewed about a million people to make this film, why not stick full length interviews of some of the more in the extras like Pandey did with the Senna DVD (even if the were just a selection, like Stewart, Scheckter, Fittipaldi, “the Prof”)?

      It seems that the makers of all three films (Senna/Rush/1) have got something wrong. Senna is too Hagiographical in parts. Rush too Hollywood and cheesy and 1 seems to not quite lived up to the promise which is a shame.

      Time for “F1 Fanatic Studios” to have a crack at an F1 film methinks…

    3. In contrary I quite liked it. When it comes to F1 movies there is no better for me than real footage and some great interviews. That’s why I really didn’t like the flashy and artificial “Rush”.
      Also, the fact that I’ve seen “1” before Rush meant that I learned the things on “1” and “Rush” was just the “glamour” version of the same story (well not exactly as “1” shows a lot more) with some blows and whistles from the Hollywood.
      I bet some people would enjoyed “1” much more if they would see it before “rush”

      1. That’s why I really didn’t like the flashy and artificial “Rush”

        That seems like a weird accusation to throw at Rush specifically- surely that’s just general to all sports or historic films and comes down to personal preference not to want a film recreation of such a story.

    4. It’s going to be in Dutch cinema’s for a short while in a month, I am going to see it, but don’t think I’ll ask anyone to join me who isn’t into F1 as much as me, seeing as most people here aren’t even that enthusiastic about it..

      1. I got it through ‘questionable means’, might go see it at Pathe because of the experience in a cinema versus watching it on a laptop. And it does turn into a sales pitch at the end like Keith mentioned and on top of it skips lots of the 80’s.

    5. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      27th April 2014, 20:01

      I think you’re rather going against the grain in saying it the weakest of the three, Keith. Yes, the editing is amateurish, and the entire piece lacks direction and focus, so yes, in an aesthetic sense, it is the weakest, and yet I, and many others, enjoyed a fair bit more than Rush. At least 1: Life on the Limit is not being thrown at F1 fans whilst simultaneously diluted to a more convention human interest narrative for mass market appeal. 1: Life of the Limit knows what it is, a docu-film picking up the post-Senna market and on motorsport fans more specifically, and is executed thus, whilst Rush is neither here nor there…

    6. I bought and saw the DVD a couple of weeks ago and was pretty disappointed. It is a superficial glossy look at F1 from my perspective. I have been following F1 since the late 70’s, so for my F1 appetite to be suitably whetted I need much more creativity and detail in the stories that are shared on this film. For example, those of you who have seen the extra feature on the a Senna DVD will hopefully like me, appreciate the depth of observation the interviewees give of their experiences and perspectives of F1. That’s what I was kind of hoping for on ‘Life on the limit’. What really finished it all for me was the added music on top of the racing footage. Quite frankly, I’ve seen better mash ups on YouTube than this. Harsh perhaps, but this is F1 where standards don’t get much higher.

    7. Worth the purchase price just for the brilliant onboard footage of Senna set to Hocus Pocus..

    Comments are closed.