Grand Prix Blu-ray review

            Grand Prix is very much a classic piece of storytelling, adhering to the style and structure of most major studio films since the golden age of cinema. In the 60s there was a shift in cinema, which was inserted through the stylized approaches of independent and low budget films which were influenced by foreign art house films. John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix has a very traditional structure and story, but the visual (and occasionally narrative) style he employs is decades ahead of its time.

             The making of Grand Prix is nearly as engaging as the film itself, and it comes as no surprise that this film won 3 Academy Awards for its innovative action and compelling drama. Director John Frankenheimer puts the audience directly in the action with POV style shots and pulse-pounding action. Although this film was made in 1966, Frankenheimer uses many of the same techniques in filming the race sequences that he would use again 32 years later with the chase sequences of Ronin. Split screens are also used to capture all of the action, and sometimes to simply create a hypnotic kaleidoscope of racing imagery.

            Although the film is most exciting on the track, it is the compelling drama and equally balanced characters that makes the action impactful. James Garner heads up the cast as a rebellious and risk-taking driver, and he is joined by a mild-mannered French racer (Francoise Hardy), a young Italian (Antonio Sabato) and a British driver (Brian Bedford) living under the shadow of his successful brother’s past. They each have their own romantic entanglements as well.

            The Blu-ray is most impressive because of the spectacular digital transfer from the original 65mm elements. There is still some static in some of the shots, but it almost looks to be from the original filming. The sound is also something to be enjoyed, with so many moments fueled by the revving of engines. This begins and closes the film in an impactful way. The special features include 5 featurettes, including a making-of. There is also a theatrical trailer.

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