I’ve just seen two Irish films that had this in common: a passionate career which means that by its nature, your family may be saying a finale goodbye each time you set out to do it. Last time, I spoke of war photography in Juliette Binoche’s latest film; tonight, I saw Road, a documentary narrated by Liam Neeson about a family of motorbike road racers, the Dunlops of Ireland.
I’m not a motor racing fan – I went to support my friend who has worked on the marketing. But I found, though the making of the documentary – not a genre I enjoy – was flawed, that I could learn and be inspired. Going so fast that life slows down, utter concentration, facing death and what scares you and over coming it, harnessing power… living your dream, even if it seems indulgent and may not make you money; doing it for love, regardless of financial reward. Getting back on when you’re thrown, refusing to stop when the rest of society and the medical world advise differently; going beyond the age that some say is your peak to achieve your greatest success. The exhilaration of soaring… and even speed. Yes, I strangely found myself able to understand the racers better than I had ever imagined.
Some may be surprised that I’ve ticked the spirituality category box for this post, and I didn’t expect to see a film about that, but it was mentioned and implied many times: people who lived and died doing what they loved; acceptance of death and possible injury. Robert Dunlop said he thought about God more on the long road races, such as the Isle of Man’s TT, more than any other time.
I could start a new strand on how narration spoils a story, how show don’t tell also applies to documentary, how footage is more powerful than cutting to interviews against a boring backdrop, and commending the moving interviews with loved ones that elicited a tear for a family and sport I had no previous knowledge of. But I’d like not to get sidetracked into the mechanics of the movie, rather to dwell on how through a tangent, it spoke to me of what most matters.