TT2D: Closer to the Edge (Blu ray)

TT3DAfter Senna, sports documentaries have much to live up to. Thanks to TT3D: Closer to the Edge (TT2D on blu ray), the standard has been raised even higher. As a biker myself, this is a film I’ve been longing to see – it didn’t disappoint.

The TT bike races take over the Isle of Man for a couple of weeks each summer and have done for over a century, the result of the local relaxed speed laws. But the town streets and mountain roads weren’t built with speeds of 170 miles an hour in mind. It’s well known that bikers are frequently killed and maimed at the TT but it was a shock to learn from this superb film that about 240 riders have died in the history of the event. Throughout this film we’re reminded of the dead. One rider lost both his father and uncle to the course. Everyone knows someone who didn’t make it round. This film covers the 2010 TT and it wasn’t accident free. Not all the bikers came home.

Whether you think these are brave young sporting heroes or irresponsible idiots, there’s no doubt that they are utterly committed to the race. There isn’t a major financial prize for any of the races. There is only glory. Sons follow fathers and those who can no longer do the course, thanks to past injuries, now design engines or act as guides to new riders coming across the circuit for the first time – we’re told it takes three years of racing to learn the corners.

Our eyes here belong to Guy Martin, a young man with the most astonishing mop of hair and sideburns (as mimicked by his many fans), who has yet to win despite standing on the podium every year since the late 1990s. He’s incorrigible, tearing around on his pushbike, always late, regularly breaking the rules, having his bike impounded, once being late because he’d just blown up a friend’s classic bike. His almost unintelligible accent doesn’t help matters. But he provides the perfect window into this world – his dedication and obsession is matched by his charm, cheek and charisma. You can’t doubt for a second that he loves bikes, engines and racing and this passion can’t be tamed, however much his patient sponsor might want to tweak him just a little.

Guy is the racer we follow the most (and fear for), but we hear from others, as well as the fans who travel from all over the world, year after year, to enjoy a biking spectacle. The fact that every year bikers die and are horrifically injured seems to tie them all closer together. We see the wives on the grandstands, some with very little children, and you realise that it’s these women who make the biggest sacrifice of all.

TT2D does not suffer on the small screen. I didn’t see the 3D version and so I can’t comment on that but I didn’t miss it. The camera work is wonderful, following or leading the bikes round the deadly corners at a rate of knots, squeezing between houses, walls and lampposts. Interspersed are clips from the TT’s early days with bikes that wouldn’t have approached half the speeds of the new bikes. Speeding along with the bikes, with music to complement and an unobtrusive commentary by Jared Leto, this is a hugely enjoyable film, packed full of adrenaline, that makes a great partner to Senna.

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