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Review – Maserati: A Hundred Years Against All Odds – “A tribute to one of Italy’s most iconic and stylish companies”

Maserati: A Hundred Years Against All Odds is a documentary written and directed by Phillip Selkirk. It comprehensively charts the road taken by the Italian car manufacturer from its humble beginnings in Bologna through to the world-famous sports and luxury car brand it is today.

The film opens with footage of a racing yacht, the Maserati logo emblazoned all over the magnificent boat, cutting through the surf with ease. Perhaps this film will be about more than just cars. It is not. The film very much focuses on the land-based story of the company, marking the company’s centennial year, this is a long and varied story to tell.

The firm was founded by the five Maserati brothers who operated from a small workshop in their home town of Bologna. The famous Maserati trident logo, designed by Mario Maserati is based upon the Fountain Of Neptune that stands in the Piazza Maggiore in Bologna. They initially redesigned and recrafted other vehicles and built racing cars for the racing team, Diatto, until they pulled out of racing, leaving the way clear for the brothers to build and race the first Maserati car. Driven by Alfieri Maserati, they won the Sicilian endurance race, the Targo Florio. From there, Maserati moved up through the gears to become a major force in the world sports car racing scene, pre-WWII.

In 1937, the Maserati brothers sold the company to the Adolfo Orsi family who relocated Maserati to Modena, its home to this day. Aside from the period during WWII, where Maserati ceased car manufacture and contributed to the Italian war effort, the company has become synonymous with high-end sports and luxury cars, typifying Italian design and style.

The film boasts fascinating pre-war footage that gives an exhilarating indication of how far motor racing has come in a hundred years, how much drivers and fans alike, risked life and limb pursuing their love for motorsport. Stirling Moss chillingly states during the film that motor racing is meant to be dangerous and if you don’t want danger, go and play tennis. No more is this so tragically demonstrated than with footage of the aftermath of a crash during the 1957 Brescia to Rome road race, the Mille Miglia, where ten people were killed, including the Ferrari driver, Alfonso de Portago and 5 children. The Mille Miglia was never run as a competitive race again.

The film really comes into its own when we follow Maserati through the 60s and 70s. The beauty of their sports car designs exuded style and chic, mirroring Italian fashion houses like Versace and Valentino with cool, effortless bravado seen at the time in the early films of Fellini or Bertolucci. Even someone like me who is mainly indifferent to cars and motor racing can appreciate these as works of art and a statement. These are not cars you drive to the supermarket in, to do the weekly shop.

With talking head interviews from prominent members of the Maserati alumni over the years including Andrea Bertolini, Sterling Moss, Harald Wester, and John Surtees along with Pink Floyd drummer and Maserati collector, Nick Mason, the film charts the company’s ups and downs through the decades in a most comprehensive manner. It plots the team Maserati racing years, its entry into the sports and luxury car market, to several takeovers from manufacturers such as Citroen, Fiat, and even fierce rival, Ferarri. The film delivers the Maserati biography that may not have a broad appeal beyond motorsport and car fandom, but any self-respecting petrolhead will love this detailed tribute to one of Italy’s most iconic and stylish companies.

Maserati: A Hundred Years Against All Odds is releasing digitally in the UK from 20th July and available to download and on DVD from 27th July.

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