Why Ferrari Director Michael Mann Steered Clear Of The Biopic Route

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Written By Sedoso Feb

Indeed, Mann was quite disparaging of a certain kind of Hollywood biopic that takes a traditional, chronological approach to their subjects. He finds them equal to middle-rent TV documentaries, saying:

“I wouldn’t have been interested in some lengthy biopic. […] Those are documentaries that belong on the History Channel. They never work.” 

While a lengthy full-life History Channel documentary about the life of Enzo Ferrari would likely have been fascinating in its own way, Mann was clearly more interested in making his movie properly cinematic. He didn’t want to merely communicate facts, but tell a dramatic story. For Enzo Ferrari, it certainly helped that the summer of 1957 was so unbearably dramatic for the man. It also helped that so much of the drama took place in the middle of a small town where all the players were literally nearby. Having a single neighborhood to shoot in allowed Mann to focus and explore time, place, and character. The “long arm of history,” it seems, could easily be ignored with such an approach. Mann continued: 

“[W]ithin this four-month period, all the dynamic forces of Enzo’s life are compacted and in collision. Everything in the movie that happened, happened within 500 meters of everything else. […] The barber’s shop is round the corner; the hotel Enzo went to for drinks is opposite; the opera is next door. And he never wanted to go anyplace else. He even stopped going to races and never left the country. So, you have to try and build that sense of intense compression into one neighborhood, making the location that the action is going to take place in as believable and real as possible.”

“Ferrari” is to be released on December 25, 2023. Incidentally, “Ali” was also a Christmas Day release.

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