Hanns-Bruno Kammertöns, Vanessa Nöcker and Michael Wech
Through exclusive interviews and archival footage, this documentary traces an intimate portrait of seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher.
The documentary explores the many facets that made and define this complex athlete and accompanies him on his meteoric rise in this challenging and dangerous sport, which is followed by millions worldwide. His strong will and triumphant fight to win against all odds put Michael Schumacher at the centre of global attention. Michael Schumacher’s journey has captured the imagination of millions, but there is a lot more than motor racing to the success of this very private man. However, it is not only his fighting spirit and striving for perfection that define Michael Schumacher as a person; his self-doubt and insecurities complete the picture of a sensitive and reflected man. At the heart of Michael’s story are his parents, his children and Corinna Schumacher, his childhood sweetheart and the love of his life. They are now ready to tell his story…
Growing up I had two sporting figures that I absolutely loved. In the world of football, I was a massive fan of Eric Cantona during his time at Manchester United, always taking out player posters from the Glory Gory Man United magazine that used to exist at the time, and mostly one wall would be a shine of sorts dedicated to Eric Cantona. On another wall, it would be filled with posters linked to another sporting hero, Michael Schumacher. So it’s safe to say with the upcoming release of this documentary, I was excited to see it.
The documentary had the blessing of Michael’s family and it shows throughout the documentary as we see footage of Michael spending time with his family, partying with them as well as those that compete in Formula 1 (one example being David Coulthard), an it’s always nice to see this kind of footage to get a better scope of Michael as a man rather than the competitive individual we knew him to be. It also provides some insight into how Michael was so-keen on racing that as a youngster, we see how and reasoning as to why he represented Luxembourg instead of his native Germany in a karting competition, while his working-class parents ran the local kart track.
I’m sure there will be a few who will try to compare this to the Ayrton Senna documentary (Senna) released in 2010, and the documentary also touches on his rivalry with Michael Schumacher during the ’94 Championship and tragic death, with some audio of Michael talking about the aftermath of that after that race at the San Marino Grand Prix and you can hear in his voice how Senna’s death changed his perspective on things. While there’s plenty of audio dialogue of Michael as well as archive footage, there’s plenty of talking heads as well from those that worked with him and those that competed against him, such as Ross Brawn and Jean Todt who worked with Michael during his time at Ferrari, to Mika Häkkinen and Damon Hill, who challenged Michael in the Formula 1 championships.
I enjoyed the talking pieces from Mika Häkkinen the most, as he goes into detail about their time racing against each other in the karting championships and how even then he knew that Michael was different from any other driver. While Schumacher’s record and achievements are to be admired, the documentary doesn’t shy away from trying to tackle some of his controversial moments, such as Damon Hill discussing the ’94 Australian Grand Prix incident that forced them both to retire, resulting in Michael winning the World Drivers’ Championship. It also touches on a similar incident that occurred a few years later in Jerez at the European Grand Prix, only this time Michael collides with Jacques Villeneuve and comes out worse for it, retiring from the race and losing out on the championship. But most of all, the documentary touches on the immense pressure that he and Ferrari put on him to achieve a World Championship for the team, who last won it in 1979, while the final ten minutes does focus on Michael’s current situation today and have his wife Corinne, son Mick, and daughter Gina talk about their fond memories of Michael and that leads to some heartfelt moments, such as Corinne explains to us that “Michael always protected us, and now we are protecting Michael”.
Unfortunately the documentary spending so much emphasis on Michael Schumacher trying to win his first championship in a Ferrari, that the following championships in the Ferrari era are pretty much wrapped up in a neat montage. While some of Schumacher’s controversial moments are touched upon, there is one noticeable, glaring omission that will disappoint some hardcore Formula 1 fans I’m sure i.e. Rascassegate.
Schumacher is an insightful documentary into Michael Schumacher as a competitor and family man, which is well-edited together by Susanne Ocklitz, Michael Scheffold and Olaf Voightländer.