James Mangold’s period drama Ford v. Ferrari celebrates the ascendancy of the American car manufacturer over its Italian rival in the field of motorsport. Automative engineer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and British auto car driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) build from scratch the Ford GT40, which is pitted against Ferrari’s vehicle in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans motorsport championship.
Shelby and Miles were handpicked by Henry Ford II and legendary Ford executive Lee Iacocca to work on the G40. Iacocca, played by Jon Bernthal in the film, tells Carroll Shelby to build the “greatest race car the world’s ever seen”. Shelby recommends Ken Miles, a “pure racer” who also has a reputation for being difficult. Miles is deeply sceptical that Ferrari can be unseated: “How long did you tell them that you needed, two, three hundred years?”
The corporate rivalry is positioned as a “war” by Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts). The Rolling Stones song Gimme Shelter, which was originally composed in 1969 as a critical response to the Vietnam War, plays without irony in the background as the Americans and British prepare to show the Italians their place.
Ford v. Ferrari will be released on November 15, and is being positioned as a favourite for the 2020 Oscars. Director James Mangold’s credits include Walk the Line (2005), 3:10 to Yuma (2007), Knight and Day (2010) and Logan (2017).