Love The Beast, written and directed by Eric Bana
DVD, 88 minutes © 2009
Distributed by Madman Entertainment
Love the Beast was a cinema-released documentary starring, written and directed by Australian-born Hollywood actor Eric Bana, famous for his roles in Chopper, Hulk, Munich and Star Trek.
The film, now available on DVD, focuses on his 25-year obsession with his very first car, a rare 1974 Ford Falcon XB Coupe, which he first fell in love with as it claimed an utterly dominant 1-2 at the 1977 Bathurst 1000. His obsession for it was cemented when it was also used as a central vehicle in the film, Mad Max.
After much debate with his parents, he managed to purchase an XB – albeit not in good condition – at the age of fifteen, and with three of his closest friends, his late teenage and early adult years were spent with them as he rebuilt and restored the car.
There’s an interesting parallel drawn between Bana’s story and that of his father, Ivan, who had also bought and restored a Ford Thunderbird during Bana’s childhood. By contrast, the Thunderbird sat for many years in the garage under its cover, rarely looked at and never driven.
Bana’s Falcon XB was nicknamed ‘The Beast’, and it was a near-constant presence in the lives of all four friends, who decide to have it converted into racing-spec condition for Bana to use in the 1996 Targa Tasmania rally, one of the most dangerous and last-remaining rally events on public roads.
To his amazement, he finished third in his class, and despite promises that he would return each year, it was another eleven years before he and ‘The Beast’ – now beautifully restored and resprayed bright red – made their return.
Tragically for Bana and his navigator / best friend Tony, the pair would crash at high speed on the penultimate day of the rally – ‘The Beast’ was almost a complete write-off.
This is very much a car-love confessional with an interesting fairytale/documentary twist – yet it is also neither: rather, it’s a rumination about Australia’s obsession with the muscle car filtered through the prism of the actor’s own personal narrative.
The film isn’t just about Bana’s own preoccupation with the ‘The Beast’, with his obsession with cars also shared with fellow petrol-heads, Jeremy Clarkson, Jay Leno and Dr Phil McGraw – all offer a valuable complement to Bana’s story as he weighs up the gut-wrenching decision of whether to rebuild his beloved XB Falcon once more.
The DVD also includes a number of bonus features, including the theatrical trailer, an extended interview with Bana and high-quality stills of ‘The Beast’s life. The interview with Bana is worth checking out.
Love The Beast ranks as the second-highest-grossing Australian documentary of all time, and it’s not hard to understand why.
Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award Love The Beast…
Love The Beast is available at all good DVD retailers. Our review copy was kindly supplied to us by Madman Entertainment.