Title - 'The Man & Le Mans' (Original Motion Picture)
Artist - Jim Copperthwaite
The soundtrack to 'The Man & Le Mans' is a nice double act of composition from two highly-regarded composers of our time. Composed by Jim Copperthwaite, 'The Man' is a documentary film about the making of the Steve McQueen film (then entitled 'Le Mans'), released in 1971.
Indeed, sadly, the film 'Le Mans' is now widely regarded as the beginning of the end for not only Steve McQueen's career, but also his health. Additionally, this documentary soundtrack also now includes the original score to the 1971 film 'Le Mans,' composed by Michel Legrand.
Both Copperthwaite and Legrand do great, exciting work on 'The Man & Le Mans,' that's for sure, but it's the actual truth behind the tale that makes this all the more enduring of a musical accompaniment. The documentary itself depicts an auto race during the 70's on the world's hardest endurance course: Le Mans in France. The race goes over 24 hours on 14.5 kilometers of cordoned country road.
Every few hours the two drivers per car alternate - but it's still a challenge for concentration and material. In the focus is the duel between the German Stahler in Ferrari 512LM and the American Delaney in Gulf Team Porsche 917. Delaney (McQueen) is under extraordinary pressure, because the year before he caused a severe accident, in which his friend Lisa's husband was killed.
If you have never seen it, well, the racing sequences are beautifully staged. The final seconds before the race starts, drivers in the cars, fidgeting with shifters, one by one switching ignitions on as the countdown closes against a stethoscopic heartbeat sound, puts you right in the cockpits. At-speed scenes were driven by actual racing luminaries of the time, including McQueen himself, and they go as fast camera mounts will allow.
A couple of spectacular crashes take place, both filmed in an interwoven stop-action style that lets you watch every rivet pop as the cars unpeel like grapes. Near the end, entirely plausible circumstance pits McQueen and his main rival, a great German driver in a gripping last-lap duel. (the German driver, played by Sigfried Rauch, also played the wily Wehrmacht Sergeant in Sam Fuller's 'The Big Red One.')
Ergo, and once again, it should be noted that both Copperthwaite's and Legrand's composing skills here are at the highest of levels. Throughout the 28 tracks, with the first being an actual Steve McQueen spoken word excerpt (albeit :43 seconds) from a 1980 interview on through to the aptly-titled last track, 'Finale,' this pulsating soundtrack score to 'The Man' & 'Le Mans' is one of the most breathtaking musical works of composition that I have ever had the pleasure to listen to.
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