Culture & Lifestyle

Schumacher documentary a disappointing tribute to an extraordinary life

SCHUMACHER ★★½

(M) 112 minutes. Streaming on Netflix.

Three German directors worked three and a half years on this biography of Michael Schumacher, one of the greatest racing drivers who lived. They have unearthed rare family footage and put the racing footage together in a way that recognises the drama of Formula One.

Michael Schumacher at the 1994
Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka.

Schumacher’s career has plenty to justify a great film, even before the tragedy of his post-racing life. Why, then, is the film so disappointing? Let me count the ways.

One, it fails to tell us the most basic information – who, what, when etc – out of some misguided sense of propriety. If you don’t know that Schumacher had a major skiing accident in 2013 that damaged his brain, put him in a coma and a wheelchair, the film won’t tell you.

Instead, we get aerial shots around the French ski resort of Meribel, where “something” happened, and no information about what. This is the worst kind of “delicacy” – abrogating the filmmaker’s responsibility to inform the viewer, out of some misguided sense of duty to the subject.

Schumacher with his children Mick and Gina-Maria, in a photo from the documentary <i>Schumacher.

Schumacher with his children Mick and Gina-Maria, in a photo from the documentary Schumacher.

How is he doing now, you ask? His wife Corinna – a tower of strength – says Michael always said, “private is private”, and the family has respected that. She adds cryptically that he is “here, but different”. I found out more in two minutes on the web than from watching the film: for the record he is at home, awake and has made some progress.

The presence of family interviews indicates it’s an authorised biography. Is that why it pussyfoots around the tragedy? Apparently not. The notes stress it was a fully independent production and the family did not interfere.

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