the film, Ford v Ferrari (2019), Poster

The American sports drama film Ford v Ferrari (2019), was directed by the American producer, screenwriter, and television and film director James Mangold. Ford v Ferrari (2019) stars Matt Damon as Caroll Shelby; Former race car driver, vehicle designer, and builder from the United States, and Christian Bale as Ken Miles; Veteran of World War II and experienced race car driver from the United Kingdom, living in America. Ford v Ferrari (2019) tells the story of Caroll Shelby and Ken Miles, that in order to beat Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference and the laws of physics to create a groundbreaking race car for Ford.

The Ford car, designed by Ken Miles and Caroll Shelby racing in Daytona.
Ford Car at Le Mans

Ford v Ferrari had its world premiere on August 30, 2019, at the Telluride Film Festival, and was released in theatres in the United States on November 15, 2019, by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures’ 20th Century Fox division. Upon its release, the film was well-received by the critics and the public. Critics praised the performances (particularly those of Bale and Damon), as well as Mangold’s direction, editing, and racing sequences.

The National Board of Review named it one of the ten best films of the year, and it earned four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and won Best Film Editing and Best Sound Editing at the 92nd Academy Awards. It was the last film to win an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing until the category was merged with Best Sound Mixing to form a new Best Sound award. For his outstanding performance, and a perfect British accent Christian Bale was also nominated for a Golden Globe award in the Best Actor – Drama category, and for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in Leading Role. With its budget of $96.7 million, Ford v Ferrari grossed over $225.5 million worldwide.

Ken Miles driving his car in a SCCA race at Willow Springs in1963.
Ken Miles driving his car at SCCA race, 1963.

Plot of Ford v Ferrari (2019)

In the mid-1960s, as Enzo Ferrari’s fast Rosso-Corsa racing cars dominate the motorsport scene, Carroll Shelby, an American car designer, is forced to retire after winning the grueling ’24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in 1959. But, before long, an unlikely proposal from Henry Ford’s vice president, Lee Iacocca,  provides him an opportunity to beat the Italians at their own game. Now, under those pressures, Ken Miles, a British sports car driver, and racing engineer, reluctantly agrees to help and boost Ford’s reputation, despite the fact that the race team has less than ninety days to rewrite history. As a result, the unconventional pair creates the legendary Ford GT40 Mk I high-performance racing car. Will Shelby and Miles be able to end Ferrari’s winning streak?

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Awards and Nominations

  • Ford v Ferrari (2019) was nominated for four Academy Awards of which it won two awards in the Best Film Editing and Best Sound Editing category.
  • Ford v Ferrari (2019) was nominated for three BAFTA awards of which it won one award in the Best Editing category.
  • It was also nominated for five Critics’ Choice Movie Awards in the Best Picture, Best Action Movie, Best Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Cinematography categories.
  • It was nominated for one Golden Globe award in the Best Actor – Motion Picture or Drama category for Christian Bale.

Ford v Ferrari (2019) received 87 nominations from different small and major award shows, of which it won 24 awards.

Matt Damon as Caroll Shelby and Christian Bale as Ken Miles in Ford v Ferrari (2019)
Matt Damon and Christian Bale in Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Production Company:                   Chernin Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Turnpike Films

Producer:                            Peter Chernin, James Mangold, Jenno Topping

Director:                              James Mangold

Film Duration:                  152 minutes

Release Date:                    August 30, 2019 (Telluride), November 15, 2019 (United States)

Amazing Facts About Ford v Ferrari (2019)

  • Bale wanted to learn the art of car racing in order to prepare for his position as Ken Miles and enrolled in a training program to practice.
  • The real Peter Miles proved to be a tremendous asset to the development, especially for Christian Bale. As a way of getting a sense of Ken Miles from one of his loved ones, he would talk to Peter extensively about his father.
  • Christian Bale had to lose seventy pounds before filming, according to Matt Damon. Bale had gained a lot of weight for his role in Vice (2018) and had to lose it all in just seven months to play Ken Miles, a lean race car driver.
  • Matt Damon said that working with Christian Bale was the number one reason he wanted to do the film.
  • Prior to its release, Ford Motor Company distanced itself from the film due to its depiction of Leo Beebe as a villain.
  • In North America, it was marketed as “Ford v Ferrari.” In most other countries, the film is known as “Le Mans 66.”
Christian Bale with his race training crew in the film Ford v Ferrari (2019)
  • Christian Bale was supposed to play Enzo Ferrari in Michael Mann’s Enzo Ferrari, but he dropped out due to worries about gaining the necessary weight in time for the film.
  • At one point the film was set to be made with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in the leads under the title Go Like Hell.
  • Scenes on the race track had to be filmed in five different locations in order to recreate the Le Mans circuit as it was in the 1960s.
  • Matt Damon and Christian Bale both waved the green flag at the 2019 Indianapolis 500 to promote the film.
Christian Bale as Ken Miles and Noah Jupe as Peter Miles, with the ford car, in the film, Ford v Ferrari (2019)
Christian Bale and Noah Jupe

Story of Ford v Ferrari (2019)

In 1963, Ford Motor Company Vice President Lee Iacocca recommends to Henry Ford II that the company purchase the cash-strapped Italian Ferrari in order to boost car sales by competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Enzo Ferrari, on the other hand, takes advantage of Ford’s bid to secure a more lucrative contract with Fiat, allowing him to keep full control of Scuderia Ferrari. Ferrari deliberately insults both Ford Motor and Henry Ford II by refusing the proposed contract with Ford.

Noah Jupe as Peter Miles in the 2019 film Ford v Ferrari.
Noah Jupe as Peter Miles

As a result, an enraged Ford orders his racing division to build a car capable of defeating Ferrari at Le Mans. Iacocca enlists the support of Carroll Shelby, the owner of Shelby American, a former driver who won the Le Mans race in 1959 but had to retire due to a heart problem. As a result, Shelby enlists the assistance of Ken Miles, a fiery British racer and struggling mechanic who also happens to be Shelby’s best friend.

Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas) at the Launch of Mustang.

At Los Angeles International Airport, Shelby and Miles put the Ford GT40 Mk I prototype to the test, ironing out all of its design defects before it’s race-ready. Ford sends Phil Hill and Bruce McLaren to the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans instead of Miles because they believe he is not their ideal driver. None of the Fords finish the race, as Miles predicted. Although Ford sees this as a humiliating loss, Shelby tells him that the GT40 scared Enzo Ferrari by reaching 218 mph (350.8 km/h) on the Mulsanne Straight before breaking down. Shelby and Miles continue to work on the GT40 Mk II, but Miles is nearly killed during testing when the car develops brake fade.

Caroll Shelby (Matt Damon), and Ken Miles (Christian Bale), having dinner at restaurant, in the 2019 film Ford v Ferrari.
Matt Damon and Christian Bale

In 1966, Ford Senior Vice President Leo Beebe takes over the racing division, intending to continue the program without Miles. However, Shelby offers Ford a ride in the car and wagers his own company to persuade Ford that if Miles wins the 24 Hours of Daytona, he will be able to compete at Le Mans. Shelby American competes at Daytona, but Beebe has a second Ford entered with sponsorship from NASCAR team Holman-Moody. Despite the fact that the Holman-Moody team has faster pit stops, Shelby has Miles drive his car to the 7,000 RPM tachometer redline and win the race.

Miles struggles with a faulty door during the first lap of the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, but after team engineer Phil Remington fixes it with a mallet, Miles starts setting lap records and catching up to the Ferraris. Miles has brake failure while racing with Ferrari driver Lorenzo Bandini in the new prototype 330 P3, and his brake system is replaced during his pit stop. Enzo Ferrari objects, but Shelby persuades race officials that the substitution is legitimate. On the Mulsanne Straight, Miles and Bandini battle it out once more before Bandini blasts his engine, putting the Ferrari out of the chase. With three Ford teams in the lead, Beebe instructs Shelby to make Miles slow down so that the other two Fords can catch up to him and have a three-car photo finish for the public.

Caitriona Balfe as Mollie Miles and Christian Bale as Ken Miles, in Ford v Ferrari (2019)
Caitriona Balfe and Christian Bale

Miles initially opposes this decision, continuing to set new lap records towards the end of the race, but on the final lap, he agrees to let Ford have their way. Despite the fact that McLaren is proclaimed the winner on a technicality, Miles thanks Shelby for giving him the chance to race at Le Mans.

Ford Cars crossing the finish line together at Le Mans 1966

Miles suffers another brake failure two months after Le Mans, while testing the J-car at Riverside International Raceway, and is killed in the ensuing crash. Shelby pays Miles’ widow Mollie and son Peter a visit six months later, giving Peter a wrench Miles threw at him before winning an SCCA race at Willow Springs in 1963. Ford’s winning streak at Le Mans began in 1967, 1968, and 1969. Miles was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America after his death in 2001.

Matt Damon (Caroll Shelby) with his car in Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Cast of Ford v Ferrari

Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby, American former race car driver, automotive designer, and builder.

Christian Bale as Ken Miles, British World War II veteran and professional race car driver.

Caitriona Balfe as Mollie Miles, Miles’ wife.

Josh Lucas as Leo Beebe, senior executive vice president of Ford.

Jon Bernthal as Lee Iacocca, vice president of Ford.

Tracy Letts as Henry Ford II, the CEO of Ford and grandson of automotive pioneer Henry Ford.

Noah Jupe as Peter Miles, Miles’s son.

Remo Girone as Enzo Ferrari, founder of Ferrari and its automobile racing team Scuderia Ferrari.

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