The new Netflix documentary on the life of F1 legend Michael Schumacher has given an insight into his life as a driver and a husband, but many have been left disappointed by what wasn’t mentioned, rather than what was.
The documentary, titled ‘SCHUMACHER’, has been more than three years in the making and promised an intimate portrait of the man with never-seen-before family footage and interviews with his wife, children and other key players in his life.
However, many have been left disappointed by what has been produced, with the major controversies he was involved in during his racing career, such as his 1994 crash with Damon Hill in Adelaide and his 1997 crash with Jacques Villeneuve which were both in championship-deciding races, completely glossed over and diminished.
Even Hill himself refuses to criticise his rival for crossing the line, saying: “He did what he had to do. Would I have done the same thing if I were in his position? I don’t know.”
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Ross Brawn absolves him from blame for 1997 too, when his cynical swipe on Villeneuve disqualified him from that year’s drivers’ championship. Brawn said: “Michael was not lying; he believed what he was saying [that it was Villeneuve’s fault] was true.”
However, it is the lack of any answers to the questions that have been on everyone’s lips since his tragic skiing accident in 2013 which is the biggest disappointment, according to many of the reviews of the documentary.
His wife, Corinna, does reveal the sliding doors moment where Schumacher said the snow wasn’t right for skiing and that the family could go skydiving instead, only to ski anyway and suffer the accident which put him in a coma.
“Shortly before it happened in Meribel he said to me, ‘The snow isn’t optimal. We could fly to Dubai and go skydiving there’,” Corinna says. “I have never blamed God for what happened. It was just really bad luck, all the bad luck anyone can have in life.
“It’s always terrible when you say, ‘Why is this happening to Michael or us?’ But then why does it happen to other people?
“Of course, I miss Michael every day. But it’s not just me who misses him. The children, the family, his father, everyone around him. I mean, everybody misses Michael.”
But other than that, and Corinna adding cryptically that he is “here, but different”, there is no new information on the F1 legend’s condition.
Tom Cary of the Daily Telegraph in the UK wrote: “The elephant in the room, of course, is Schumacher himself. Where is he? How is he? It is only right at the end of the (nearly 2hr-long) film that the skiing accident is even mentioned. Most of Corinna’s comments about her husband’s current condition are vague and have already been reported.
“There is no recent footage of Schumacher. No medical updates. That will frustrate many, but the family have already made it abundantly clear that they wish to keep Schumacher’s condition private, to preserve some dignity, and those wishes must be respected.
“The truth is, if the producers wanted the family’s cooperation, and they did, this was the only way it was going to happen. And their contributions are the most touching of all.”
He wrote: “It fails to tell us the most basic information – who, what, when etc – out of some misguided sense of propriety. If you don’t know that Schumacher had a major skiing accident in 2013 that damaged his brain, put him in a coma and a wheelchair, the film won’t tell you.
“Instead, we get aerial shots around the French ski resort of Meribel, where “something” happened, and no information about what. This is the worst kind of “delicacy” – abrogating the filmmaker’s responsibility to inform the viewer, out of some misguided sense of duty to the subject.
“Ultimately, it’s a sentimental portrait that wants to please the insiders. We on the outside have to scratch our heads and fill in the missing details.”
She wrote: “Schumacher, indeed, does a great deal of telling, and not enough showing. As for how the film addresses his current condition, or even the circumstances of his accident, there are only the most gnomic of allusions.
“It makes the purpose of the film, too, indistinct at best. What as a fan, or even as a non-fan, are we expected to learn? ‘The family wanted [the film] to be a gift to him,’ says Schumacher’s former manager, Sabine Kehm. An entirely understandable wish of course, but one that fails to fully explore the complexities of his legacy for the rest of us.”