"We know the danger. It isn't tidlywinks"
TT3D: Closer to the Edge is a 2011 Documentary which brings the world famous Isle of Man TT motorbike race to the big screen. Beginning in 1909, the TT is one of the most famous and dangerous motorsport events in the world and involves riders taking to the roads of the Isle of Man off the North West Coast of England and reaching speeds of up to 200mph on roads that would usually feature cars, busses and taxis travelling at no more than 30mph. The film follows the contrasting preparations and styles of three riders in the build up to the week long race event and follows their fortunes and misfortunes during the event itself.
The men who feature most prominently are 17 time TT winner John McGuinness, 8 time winner Ian Hutchinson and 30 year old Guy Martin who becomes the focus of the documentary. Guy is yet to win the event and is quite a character. He is a fast talking, old fashioned Lincolnite who is a lorry mechanic during the week. He is described as a maverick and as eccentric by fellow riders and is popular with riders and fans alike due to his unique take on life and take-no-bullshit persona. It is Guy Martin’s character that helps to make the film so interesting. While other riders sleep in their huge trailers, have massages and arrive at scrutineering on time, Martin sleeps in the back of his van, turns up when he wants and complains about anything and everything. As a result he comes over as a bit of a dick at times but is generally very likeable.
The film gets inside the heads of the men who risk death in the pursuit of the perfect time and discovers what drives them. By interviewing riders, fans, mechanics and marshals the film uncovers the passion behind the event and gets the audience close to the action with some wonderful on board photography. It really gets the heart pumping to be on board a bike travelling at 170mph around blind corners and crests with walls, houses and lamp posts just inches away. Safety or a lack of it is a major theme of the documentary. While riders claim that no one makes them do it and those who have crashes say they can’t wait to get back on a bike, the film doesn’t shy away from showing some quite catastrophic crashes and indeed there are deaths during the film as there are every year at the TT. It is perhaps surprising in a Health and Safety conscious 21st Century that the event still takes place and is perhaps the last bastion of this sort of racing. The rider’s attitudes to danger reminded me of reading accounts of Second World War veterans. Riders describe broken ribs, backs and severed feet with the same calm dignity that veterans described being under fire. It is like taking a step back in time.
The film builds to an incredibly tense and exciting albeit tragic final third during which Martin and the other riders battle for the five race victories available. The race scenes are thrilling and fraught with danger. The action gives you an idea as to why riders come back year after year despite the danger. Despite being a great documentary, not all is excellent. The narration by
actor/musician Jared Leto feels out of place. For a film that is so intrinsically
English and featuring some wonderful Northern English characters, having an
American rock star doing the narration didn’t feel or sound right. Another
sound problem was understanding what Guy Martin was bloomin’ eck’ well sayin’
now ay then. I went to University just a few miles from where he is from and I
could barely understand him so I wonder if anyone else could. This though is
just one of the quirks of a thrilling, jaw dropping, beautifully shot and
action filled documentary which is well worth spending 104 minutes watching. US