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Documentary Review - STEVE MCQUEEN: THE MAN & LE MANS

The behind the scenes story of the making of Steve McQueen's pet project, 1971's Le Mans.

Review by Emily Craig (@emillycraig)

Directed by: Gabriel Clarke, John McKenna


The film does a good job at trying to show how much of a legend McQueen was, but after watching this film it’s clear that he wasn’t all perfect. 




I’ll hold my hands up and say I haven’t actually watched the film Le Mans and nor am I too into Steve McQueen, which makes me a not so ideal viewer – I will however say that it pleasantly surprised me given the circumstances.
The Man & Le Mans is a documentary about Steve McQueen and the making of the 1971 film Le Mans (about the 24 hour race held in France). Although I haven’t seen it, I do know the film was neither a success or critically acclaimed, so it is a peculiar film to make a documentary about, given how underwhelming it seems to be. It’s not the film that’s of interest, however, it’s the events that happened to McQueen whilst filming that makes it a hot topic.
For someone who knew very little about Steve McQueen, it was interesting for me to see how much of an impact he’s had on the film world and just how popular he was. The film includes found footage of him, along with his wife and son, who also both did separate interviews for the film; I found this was a nice addition to the documentary which made it feel more personal.
I was surprised to find out all the scandals and chaos that occurred during filming; we learn about McQueen’s connection to the Manson murders, nearly fatal accidents and affairs. McQueen really was the perfect example of an actor whose fame has gotten to their head – he was extremely into car racing and so he felt like he had to have complete control in every aspect of the film, which led to director John Sturges dropping out due to conflict and the film being way over its budget.
The film does a good job at trying to show how much of a legend McQueen was, but after watching this film it’s clear that he wasn’t all perfect. It would have been nice to show him in a more truthful light like Amy Winehouse in the documentary Amy (Kapadia, 2015), which accurately shows the audience things how they are, in true documentary fashion. I liked this film, and I am neither into Steve McQueen, nor am I interested in cars, so I can only imagine that someone who likes these things are going to be more than satisfied.
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