Follow Friday – Reel History

Anything combining history and films is going to be a hit with me. Even given that I think that the Guardian’s reel history column is wonderful.

The historian Alex von Tunzelmann reviews films both for quality and historical accuracy, covering everything from biblical history to the origins of facebook. So if you want to know how realistic the chariot races in Ben Hur, what that elephant in Les Mis was about or quite how much tosh JFK is then this for you.

Tunzelmann even undertakes the unlikely task of assessing the accuracy of Iron Sky and X-Men: First Class

James Hunt and Niki Lauda were ‘good friends’

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At least according to the Guardian’s resident debunker of historically dodgy films, who compares Rush‘s version of events with the reality.

Hunt meets Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) when they’re both racing Formula Three. Hunt is all hunky blond entitlement, champagne-swigging and recklessness; Lauda is disciplined, obsessive and – as everyone keeps reminding him – kind of ratty-looking. They’re also both supremely arrogant alpha males, and loathe each other on sight. In fact, judging by Gerald Donaldson’s biography of Hunt, their rivalry was quite friendly. Hunt won a Formula Two race against Lauda at Oulton Park in 1972; Donaldson notes that Lauda and another driver, Ronnie Peterson, congratulated him and “were genuinely happy to see James finally get a share of the success they felt he deserved”. Hunt – who was not in the habit of sugar-coating anything he said to the press – said: “I got on very well with Niki and always had done since we first met in Formula Three and gypsied around Europe together. We raced against each other but we also teamed up as mates, not just casual acquaintances.” To be fair, accuracy on this point would make for a much duller film.