“He was not Hercules, he was Icarus. Steve wanted to fly so high, but he couldn’t tell when the wax left his wings…”
These are the words of John Klawitter, the on-set documentary maker during Steve McQueen’s 1971 classic race flick Le Mans. It’s a rather metaphoric description of a Hollywood hero who, for a few months in 1970, pretty much lost the plot.
In fact Le Mans didn’t have much of a plot at all, and that was the problem. McQueen was so obsessed with capturing cars and the sweaty realism of racing that he neglected the storyline almost completely. For him, motor racing wasn’t merely a competition, but a full-contact blood sport, and he insisted on filming the battle at full racing speed.