Reviews: Truth In Twenty Four

A first-rate sports film in spite of being a promotional documentary for Audi

The classical elements of a sports movie are pretty simple. You start with a subject: an athlete or a team. Then you provide a challenge: a competition which the subject wants, desperately, to win, but which seems entirely or almost entirely beyond their reach. Then you find how they reacts to this challenge: in a way which no-one would expect, in a way which proves that the subject is infinitely more capable than they had appeared, and in a way which it is an inspiration to see.

In 2008 — the year that the documentary takes place — the Audi Le Mans prototype race car, the R10 TDI, was slower than the Peugeot 908. Audi was a winning team at Le Mans, having won the past four years running and seven of the past eight, but they were the underdogs — it was, the commentators said, Peugeot's race to lose.

The commentators were wrong. Peugeot lost, true — their three cars took second, third, and fifth — but they lost because of two factors. First, their car proved less capable in the rain. And second, Audi's racing team was willing to work harder, faster, and longer than theirs.

Despite the patent fact that its purpose is to advertise Audi's racing pedigree, Truth In Twenty Four is a staggeringly well-made movie. An example: over the course of a single minute of film, the difference in speed between Audi's car and Peugeot's over the first three laps is shown: three long shots, separated by the standard films of cars snarling around corners, of the starting line, show the Audi arriving first three seconds after the Peugeots, then six-and-a-half, then ten — in the last case the Peugeots have already departed the frame of the shot before the Audi appears.

What you have here, then, is a confluence of every element necessary for a great sports film in a package that delivers as close to the truth as Hollywood can create, and at a price which cannot be beat. Highly recommended.