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Ford v. Ferrari: 10 Things We Know From The Trailer

Earlier this week, the first trailer for James Mangold’s latest film, Ford v Ferrari, was unveiled upon the world. Since the trailer’s release, the film is being hailed as an early award season contender. Directed by James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari follows a team of American designers and engineers in the mid-sixties that set out to achieve the impossible – defeat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France using a Ford vehicle.

RELATED: First Ford v. Ferrari Poster Revealed Ahead of Trailer Premiere Sunday

It’s perhaps one of the greatest underdog tales in racing history, which is why it’s ripe for silver screen adaptation. So, without further delay, here are ten things that we know about Ford v Ferrari based on the first trailer!

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Start Now advertising 10 Matt Damon Plays Carroll Shelby In The Early Days Of His Design Career

As the top-billed performer in Ford v Ferrari, it’s no secret that Matt Damon is playing the renowned automobile designer Carroll Shelby. Although the first trailer itself focuses heavily on Damon as Shelby, there’s much more to the designer’s story than it might indicate. While the entrepreneur is mostly known for his partnerships under the Shelby American Inc. banner, he was also an accomplished racer himself.

Shelby’s racing career culminated with a win in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans, only to retire that same year due to health reasons. The trailer seems to indicate that the story will begin sometime in the early days of Shelby’s post-racing career, with his arc seemingly revolving around coping with this career transition. Along with this, we get a hint of Shelby’s skills behind the wheel in the final scene of the trailer. Shelby was the connective link in bringing the Ford GT40 team together, so it makes sense that he’s the lead of the film.

9 It’s Not Based On The Book “Go Like Hell”

When an untitled film about Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari’s infamous rivalry was first announced back in 2013, things initially looked very different. Originally, 21st Century Fox commissioned a script based on the book “Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans” by A.J. Baime. Interestingly, this version of the film would have starred Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, with Joseph Kosinski directing.

While the project languished in development hell for a few more years, the rights eventually lapsed and were subsequently picked up by Legendary. Although Legendary is reportedly planning its TV series based on Baime’s book, it would also effectively render the original script useless. It’s hard to say if the new screenplay by Jason Keller, along with Jez and John-Henry Butterworth is now an original screenplay. According to the trailer, however, the film seems to be an original dramatization of real-life events.

advertising 8 Christian Bale Co-Stars As Legendary Driver Ken Miles

Although the events of this particular story led Ken Miles to be forgotten by history, he’s simply one of the best racers ever to grace the earth. While the story of Ford v Ferrari is very much an ensemble piece, the trailer seems to position Bale as the co-lead of the film alongside Damon. As we see in the trailer, Miles was a crucial part of Ford’s run for Le Mans dominance in 1966.

As a close personal friend of Shelby, Miles was instrumental in testing and developing classic cars like the GT40 Mk II, Shelby Cobra, and Mustang GT350. More importantly, however, Miles was also a vital member of the engineering team for the Shelby/Cobra in the early 1960s. Miles was the type of guy who built the cars that he raced. As a result, he is officially credited with helping Shelby to develop numerous designs. Even though history wasn’t kind to Miles at first, his immense hall of fame legacy is shaping up to be solidified by Bale’s performance in the film.

7 It’s More About the Bonds of Friendship Than Racing

Even though the Ford v Ferrari trailer showcases a healthy amount of racing scenes, it also solidifies the idea that the film is a character drama above all else. In many ways, the Le Mans ‘66 race itself is only a backdrop to the politics and bureaucracy that surrounded it. A good chunk of the trailer is dedicated to establishing the relationship between the Shelby and Miles, something indicative of the final film’s focus.

Speaking with EW, Mangold echoed this sentiment, “This is much more of a relationship movie and less a historical document.” Bale also emphasized the film’s focus. “It’s these two friends figuring out how do you deal with these a-holes in suits who know nothing about racing.” Bale’s approach only solidifies that the story is ultimately attempting to transcend racing, becoming “something that captures the spirit of people who are willing to risk everything for their love.”

6 Tracy Letts Portrays Henry Ford II As A Villain

Although Henry Ford II is a notorious historical figure in his own right, the trailer for Ford v Ferrari paints him to be the villain of this particular tale. We only get a few glimpses of Tracy Letts’ performance as Henry Ford II, but what we do see makes him seem like an ominous presence in this film. The final scene in the trailer showcases Shelby taking Ford for a ride in what is presumably the completed GT40. Even though this scene is amusing in its own right, it also encapsulates the disconnect between the people who commission the cars and those who drive them – something that Ford v Ferrari looks to explore thematically.

As the heir to the Ford Empire, Henry Ford II had felt it necessary to prove his contribution to the family legacy. After a business deal to purchase Ferrari went sour in the early ’60s, Ford set his sights on commissioning a car to beat the dominant Italian team – which is where Shelby comes into the picture. It’s unlikely that the film will cover this information, but it’s an essential piece of backstory that the trailer barely touched on.

5 James Mangold Is Bringing An Old-School, Practical Approach To The Filmmaking

As his first feature since 2017’s excellent Logan, James Mangold is once again set to make another awards season splash with Ford v Ferrari. From the moment that the trailer begins, there’s a sense that you’re watching old-school filmmaking at it’s finest. Everything about the trailer feels like classic Hollywood filmmaking – from the practically shot racing scenes to the emphasis on character and story over bombast.

According to the Logan director, Ford v Ferrari is an “endangered species.” The practical approach showcased in the trailer allowed Mangold to keep the story “as emotionally and physically real as possible.” He also felt compelled to make “Butch and Sundance in the world of racing,” which is entirely apparent in the Ford v Ferrari trailer.

advertising 4 Jon Bernthal Portrays Former Ford Executive Lee Iacocca

As we see in the trailer, actor Jon Bernthal plays automobile executive Lee Iacocca responsible for initially contacting Shelby about Ford’s ambition to defeat Ferrari at Le Mans in 1966. It’s tough to say how big of a role Bernthal plays in Ford v Ferrari, but Iacocca remains an essential figure in this particular story. As the trailer hints toward, the automobile executive participated in the development and of several notable Ford vehicles, including the fabled GT40.

Iacocca began his career at Ford in 1946, eventually moving his way up to President of the company in 1970. Within the timeline of the film, however, Iacocca was merely a Vice President and General Manager at Ford. Interestingly, Iacocca and Ford II notoriously clashed often. Although it’s still unclear if this dynamic will make its way into the story, Iacocca’s role seems to have been beefed up for the film.

3 The Movie Likely Takes Place Between 1964-1966

From the first shot of the trailer for Ford v Ferrari, it’s pretty evident that we’re watching a mid-60’s period piece. Considering the climactic race that drives the film’s plot (no pun intended) occurs in 1966, we can assume that the story culminates there. On the flipside, Shelby was handed the Ford GT40 program in 1964. Based on the early sequences showcased in the trailer, it seems like Shelby’s hiring will serve as the story’s inciting incident.

With this information in mind, it’s safe to assume that the plot primarily takes place between 1964-1966. There could be potential for flashbacks in the film, but that seems doubtful based on what’s shown in the trailer.

advertising 2 Molly and Peter Miles Will Emotionally Anchor Ford v Ferrari

The trailer begins with Bale’s Miles discussing “the perfect lap” with his son Peter, performed by Noah Jupe. It seems that Peter is mostly concerned about his father’s safety on the track, which is further hinted at in the scenes when Ken narrowly escapes a burning wreckage. Similarly, the trailer also hints at Ken’ relationship with his wife Molly, played by Caitriona Balfe in the film. Based on her blink-and-you-miss-it appearance, it’s hard to tell the significance of her role here.

The trailer primes Bale’s version of Miles as the emotional core of the film, so it’s easy to see how the family dynamic between these three will ultimately anchor Ford v Ferrari. Speaking with Empire Online about the film, Mangold all but confirmed this aspect of the film showcased in the trailer. “She understood what her husband did... She knows exactly who she married and wants him to fulfill his own dream.”

1 Le Mans 1966 Is A Crucial Part of the Story, But Not the Focus Of It

If you’re familiar with this particular story, the importance of Le Mans 1966 in the annals of racing history is a given. Even though that specific race will undoubtedly be the climax of Ford v Ferrari, it probably won’t be the focus of it – at least according to this trailer. While the events of Le Mans ’66 are essential, it was the last in a string of races that led to the Ford GT 40’s rise to prominence.

From the looks of things, the film will have multiple racing sequences. The trailer includes quick shots of these races, including 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring. Together with Le Mans, they make up the Triple Crown of racing. Even though these sequences will be crucial plot points; don’t expect the racing to be the focus of the film since it’s a character drama first and foremost.

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