A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Schumacher reviews the life of Michael Schumacher, a man called the greatest Formula 1 race car driver ever. The German documentary (with English subtitles) offers an admiring portrait of the driver who at a young age rose swiftly to challenge the sport's dominant competitors, a tale that includes some crashes, serious injury, and death. The film omits key information about the famed driver's current condition following what media reports describe as a devastating skiing accident in 2013 that caused extreme brain damage and has left him disabled. Language includes infrequent use of "f--k" and "s--t." Cigars and drinking alcohol are mentioned.
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What's the story?
SCHUMACHER is a German documentary offering an admiring portrait of Michael Schumacher, the charismatic German called one of the greatest Formula 1 race car drivers ever. This is a long, detailed review of his beginnings as a young driver and his meteoric rise in a tough field, a tale suited mostly to avid racing fans, as information and explanations about the sport are minimal. Those unfamiliar with Formula 1 racing and how it differs from other forms of racing won't learn much about the format here. The focus is on what Schumacher did to make himself one of the greats, how he found ways to win even when he wasn't driving the fastest or best car on the track. Colleagues, team members, wife, kids, and friends weigh in, all praising his dogged work ethic and dedication, and some criticizing his stubborn refusal to admit mistakes and ask for forgiveness, even when his bad judgments caused crashes. The film omits key information about the famed driver's current condition following what media reports describe as a devastating skiing accident in 2013 that caused extreme brain damage and left him severely disabled.
Is it any good?
This is a maddening biographical documentary about one of Formula 1 racing's greatest drivers ever. Schumacher is long on the details that true fans would know and ridiculously short on details that a wider, more universal audience would want to know, like how Formula 1 differs from other forms of racing, and the circumstances of the skiing accident Schumacher suffered in 2013 that seems to have paralyzed him and removed him from public view after a long and highly public career. Some reports now say he hit his head on a rock sustaining an injury so serious he was put into a medically-induced coma for six months. It's a mystery why the filmmakers, whose work seems otherwise sound (although overlong), would omit vital information anyone can find on Google in ten seconds.
Instead, we are treated to more than three minutes of baffling snowy mountain aerial shots, and not a word about the accident. Skiing isn't even mentioned. The pattern of omitting information begins earlier in the film, when Schumacher crashes and is helicoptered to a hospital. We are left to think the worst, then suddenly he's walking around in his race jumpsuit as if nothing happened, with no sense offered of how much time has passed since the crash. Half way through this long film, even those ignorant of the racing world will get the sense that the subject is coming to some terrible end, but when that end comes, it's as if someone imposed an information blackout. If the filmmakers were trying to spare family or friends the pain of reliving the unmentioned tragedy, they should've said so.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance of dedication and commitment to a goal. In what ways does Schumacher embody perseverance?
Colleagues say that Schumacher was a charismatic leader who worked as late and as hard as the team's designers and mechanics. What are some attributes that make a good leader?
The film is unusually vague about the driver's current health. Why do you think the filmmakers omitted this information? Do you think the film should've included details on this topic? Why or why not?
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