Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Closer to the Edge


Closer to the Edge
It’s a story of victory and disappointment; heartbreak and jubilation; life and death, but it also gives the viewer an insight into the complex mind of the professional road racer as he, or she, battles with hope and dejection as they get to grips with the most challenging road race in the world.

The remarkably successful 3D documentary film of the TT ‘Closer to the Edge’ made an astonishing impact at cinemas across the UK. On the Isle of Man, demand to see the film exceeded all expectations, with cinema bosses hurriedly extending the film’s run to accommodate both the curiosity seeker and the dedicated bike enthusiast.

Within seconds of the introductory sequence all conversation ceased as the packed auditorium became gripped by the exciting opening shots and atmospheric music, with that familiar tingle of excitement rippling seductively through the audience. Anyone foolish enough to break the hypnotic effect was promptly rebuked. Following the successes and failures of some of today’s top riders such as Guy Martin, John McGuinness, Ian Hutchinson and Manxman Conor Cummins, ‘Closer to the Edge’ doesn’t pull any punches, showing a sequence of spectacular crashes in quick succession, reminding us that sometimes it goes horribly wrong. Re-living the spectacular crash last year of Conor Cummins at The Verandah, over the mountain section, is particularly harrowing, although thankfully the flying Manxman survived and is competing at this year’s event.

The film revolves around a heady mixture of pathos and humour giving us a rare insight into the men behind the leathers, revealing rituals, fortitude and the occasional reluctance to admit defeat. It’s an adrenaline fuelled sport where tension and stress become key components of the riders’ lives, driving their devotion and obsessive desire to win.

But the sweet smell of success is often tempered with the tang of tragedy. Hovering in the background of each race and practice session its presence became a reality for the widow of Paul Dobbs who lost his life during filming. Bridget Dobbs spoke candidly about her loss with such bravery that it was difficult not to feel anything but admiration for her. Blaming no-one for her husband’s death all competitors understand that their journey home may be in a personally measured box, but none of them hope to take up the offer.

‘Closer to the Edge’ sends out a renewed message to the world about the future of the TT as it moves forward into the twenty first century with renewed vigour and confidence.

Having said that the film does have its critics; some believe there is too much emphasis on Guy Martin, others too little about the sidecars. It’s difficult to please all of the people all of the time, but regardless of its faults (real or imagined) ‘Closer to the Edge’ brings the world of road racing to a wider audience with the prospect of a bright future for the Isle of Man TT races.

Valerie Caine
© June 2011

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