Enzo Ferrari: Italian Success Story

El creador de los emblemática marca de lujo triunfó como piloto de Alfa Romeo antes de fundar su propio equipo. Su apasionante biografía llega a la gran pantalla interpretada por Adam Driver y bajo la dirección del siempre espectacular Michael Mann.

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Sarah Davison

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Known in Italy as “Il Commendatore” (the Knight Commander), Enzo Ferrari is one of the most outstanding characters of recent Italian history. Born in the Italian city of Modena in 1898, he was a motor racing driver and entrepreneur. Joining the racing department of Alfa Romeo as a driver, Ferrari won a motor race for the first time in 1923. After the birth of his first son, he went on to focus on working on race cars and teams for Alfa Romeo, to then become the entrepreneur behind one of the most successful, alluring and well-known motor racing teams in history.

the man and the machine

In 1929 he founded what would go on to become the most successful Formula 1 motor racing team ever, the Scuderia Ferrari, which has won more than five thousand times since its debut at the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix, just one year after the competition was founded.

A sports thriller directed by Michael Mann now depicts the life of the Italian icon on the big screen. Based on the 1991 biography Enzo Ferrari: The Man and the Machine by American motorsport journalist Brock Yates, the film strives to convey the dramatic quality of its real-life protagonist’s life: from losing a child to having a dramatic love life to being an icon of car-racing, Enzo Ferrari’s story demands to be told.

a dynamic character

At a Venice International Film Festival Press Conference, director Michael Mann highlights how Ferrari’s personal story is in itself an appealing theme for the film, explaining how it allows one to narrate universal human experiences.


Michael Mann (American accent): When you encounter a character as dynamic as he is, as operatic as he is, the more specifically you get into the man, the more universal it becomes. And I found that the way so many parts of him are in opposition to each other, his life kind of resonated with , for me, the way life is. So either, you know, it’s melodramatic and profound or I am in fact as oppositional as he is.


The conflict between Ferrari and rival brand Maserati is a part of the story which illuminates the context to which Ferrari and his career belonged.

Michael Mann: They’re both teetering on the edge of bankruptcy for very different reasons. Enzo is a race car driver. All he cares about is the race team and he went from being a driver in the 1920s and he had some moderate success. That’s his priority, that’s his imperative, and everything about the business is only to support the racing. Maserati is a completely different story and by that point the Orsis had taken over from the Maserati brothers and they were trying to run the business but Italy was still in... this is 1957, the economic recovery does not happen until 1962-63. So life was difficult and everything is hand to mouth. But what I found fascinating about this conflict is that it wasn’t just Maserati versus Ferrari. They also had two football teams and two opera companies. Also right in Modena. So it seemed to be a town which everybody was gravitating towards dualities and competition.


Extreme sports are evidently a major theme of the film, and yet another aspect of it which allows for reflection on the human condition. Adam Driver, who plays Ferrari, voiced his views on the topic.

Adam Driver (American accent): In a way it’s the opposite of escapism. It’s absolute focus on the moment that’s happening right now. There’s no room for daydreaming or losing focus and attention because  it’s dangerous, you’ll crash obviously. So the mindset was helpful in playing the character. He’s instinctive. He’s impulsive. It’s prepsychology. He’s built a way of coping with death and especially with people that he’s cared for, not only by a son but teammates who have died because of the metal that he’s made, like he says in the movie. So building those guardrails for himself and the mindset of absolute focus and absolute presence was really helpful. It’s hard not to get philosophical about an engine; the amount of pieces that have to come together, similar to films, and work on the exact right timing and the exact right moment and then this missing element of human intuition.


In Ferrari, Patrick Dempsey takes on the role of Piero Taruffi, the celebrated Italian racing driver and engineer, known for his outstanding achievements in motorsports and his close association with Enzo Ferrari. Through his portrayal, the American actor contemplates the irresistible allure that attracts certain individuals to extreme sports.

Patrick Dempsey (American accent): The mindfulness aspect of it is, you are in the present. You’re aware of everything that’s happening in front of you, beside you and behind you. And with that level of intensity, after a long run, especially in an endurance race, you come out in a completely different place. It’s transcendent in that sense. And that’s what the beauty is. That’s the addiction of it. That’s what’s hard to give up. It’s a calm exhilaration that just… it’s how we should be living. It’s what all of the spiritual books talk about it being in the now and being in the present. And I think racing does that, or any sport where you have to be that focused because your life depends on it. And I think that’s what’s so special about it and it’s up to you to really dive into that and to stay that focused. It’s hard to put into words the feeling. I wish you could all experience it because it is so magical. 

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Este artículo pertenece al número de february 2024 de la revista Speak Up.

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