Subscribe To What Ford v Ferrari’s James Mangold Took From His Biopic Experience Making Walk The Line Updates
In the making of Ford v Ferrari, director James Mangold ventured into new territory, having never made a film set in the world of car racing before – but there was one element of the larger narrative that was familiar. Having previously made the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line, he was already familiar with the challenges inherent in making a movie based on a true story, and lessons from that experience were an asset in the making of his latest feature.
I had the opportunity to sit down with James Mangold for an interview last week during the Los Angeles press day for Ford v Ferrari, and after discussing the vital filmmaking techniques needed to create the cinematic illusion of speed, I asked him about his approach to the story in the sense that it is based on true events.
The filmmaker acquiesced that there were certain elements of the story that needed to be changed for the big screen adaptation, as there was a certain rule that he followed during the Ford v Ferrari’s development. Said Mangold,
Basically, it’s the same reason why it’s rare for a movie to feature a protagonist taking a break from the story’s action to use the bathroom – despite the fact that it’s a necessary bodily function. Filmmakers write around those kinds of realities, even when it may wind up betraying the factual truth of what transpired during the real events.
Of course, the ultimate goal is generally to minimize those kinds of betrayals whenever possible, and that was certainly the case in the making of Ford v Ferrari. James Mangold understood the responsibility that came with telling the story on the big screen. At the same time, the film was created to stand on its own apart from reality, and anyone curious about the differences can do the research. The director explained,
So where did Walk The Line enter into the equation? Well, James Mangold summed up his feelings with a story from behind the scenes of that film – noting in the process that sometimes it can be the exploration of the emotional truth of a certain circumstance that actually winds up leading to a deeper factual truth.
Employing an excellent Johnny Cash impression as part of the telling, Mangold recounted a time during the making of Walk The Line that he got a call from the central figure of his film with concerns about a particular aspect:
Given the circumstances bluntly explained by the filmmaker, it was reasonable that Johnny Cash and June Carter wanted to keep certain details of their lives a secret – also notably because they had actually previously lied in books and interviews about that time in their relationship. Mangold’s digging, though, and Cash and Carter’s desire to see their romance authentically depicted, led to some major revelations:
In the aftermath, fans don’t respect Johnny Cash and June Carter any less, and the pop culture world is better for having a more accurate depiction of their lives in Walk The Line. With this in mind, it’s not hard to understand why James Mangold had the confidence he did tackling the story of Ken Miles and Carroll Shelby in Ford v Ferrari.
You can watch the filmmaker discuss his thoughts on factual vs. emotional truth, and his experiences behind the scenes of Walk The Line, by clicking play on the video below!
Starring Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal, and Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari tells the true story of how the Ford Motor Company teamed up with one of the industry’s greatest innovators and personality-filled drivers to compete against the legendary vehicles of Ferrari during the grueling 1966 La Mans race.