Throughout history, there have been a lot of iconic motor vehicles in the movies. Herbie (The Love Bug), Ecto-1 (Ghostbusters), Eleanor (Gone in 60 Seconds), and of course the Trans Am from Smokey and the Bandit are all well known and loved, but there is no more an iconic car in Hollywood than the DeLorean in Back to the Future. With its stainless steel body, gullwing doors, and very 80s sharp design the car brought a little “style” to the time machine in the beloved franchise. Everyone knows and loves that story, but what about the man behind the car? What about John DeLorean?
Framing John DeLorean gives us a look at the man who sacrificed everything in pursuit of a car. Delorean was once a General Motors executive who had overseen the development of the Pontiac GTO, Firebird, and Grand Prix. He was known for eccentric behavior in and out of the office while becoming a pop culture icon of sorts with his name and picture in the news quite often. A man with big dreams who left the safety of his steady career at GM to make a car and slap his name on it. Along the way, he would find himself in a tangled web of lies, schemes, and even the cocaine trade. His story could easily rival the greatest of con-man films in Hollywood, but his story left a trail of real broken hearts.
This documentary was directed by Don Argott and Sheena Joyce (Batman and Bill) and was produced by renowned DeLorean historian (no rhyming intended) Tamir Ardon. This trio managed to bring an engaging story to life through a combination of real footage, interviews, and reenactments. Using this method creates a unique viewing experience rarely seen in documentaries. Alec Baldwin stars as John DeLorean and Morena Baccarin plays his 3rd wife, Cristina Ferrare.
The film covers all of the known points of DeLorean’s career, his personal life, and his fall from grace, but it goes into excruciating detail of how his actions affected the people he should have loved and protected most, his family. The filmmakers took great care to show the flawed human in DeLorean without labeling him a hero or villain.
The interviews with his son Zachary and daughter Katheryn Ann show conflict within their own feelings about their dad and his legacy. There’s a point in the film where Zachary states that this part of the story would be where a Hollywood feature would end, but just like real life, this film doesn’t end there. The idea of a feature film is actually mentioned in the documentary and for good reason, Ardon has actually been involved with projects designed to get such a movie made. This documentary shows exactly why such a film would do well.
One of the most unique features of this film is the inclusion of behind the scenes shots of Alec Baldwin doing what actors do, getting into the head of the person they’re playing. The inclusion of this footage adds another layer to DeLorean as you have an actor that not only knows his character but also the art of filmmaking. Baldwin actually gives recommendations for certain shots which are then used in the film. This type of filmmaking brings an incredibly fresh feel to the documentary genre. As a movie buff, it really made my day.
This is truly a unique viewing experience about a truly unique man and will keep you engaged until the very end. The ending is actually a masterpiece of documentary filmmaking and tops off one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. If you love cars, crime drama, or are looking for something different be sure to watch Framing John DeLorean.
Recommended if you liked: Batman and Bill, The Death of Superman Lives, or Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
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