Here's an unlikely item. The 1972 up-close-and-personal documentary by motor-racing fan Roman Polanski about Jackie Stewart, and his performance in the Monaco grand prix over one rainy weekend, has been restored for this Cannes film festival, with a new 10-minute coda added in which the present-day Polanski and Stewart sit in the same Monte Carlo hotel suite where Stewart stayed at the time and chew the fat amiably about their movie, and the way in which motor-racing has changed. The movie has some real archival value and the simple juxtaposition of Polanski and Stewart – the oddest couple in Cannes, surely – has a surreal impact. But I wonder if there isn't something a little bit placid and self-satisfied about the film, which is paced remarkably slowly, given the subject matter.
Stewart is certainly an intriguing figure: a legendary sportsman seen at the very top of his game, but really without much preening or ego. He seems to be a down-to-earth and even dour guy, but very forthcoming and relaxed in front of Polanski's camera, lounging around in his suite in his underpants, while explaining at some length his Zen-ish theory how drivers must be "slow" in order to win the race: that is, they must brake and accelerate gradually and not fight with the car. Stewart incidentally uses the interesting term "quick" to describe a naturally gifted driver: not flashily "fast", but "quick", with the instinctive competitor's knack of getting from A to B with the least possible effort.
It's a very different proposition to, say, Asif Kapadia's movie about Ayrton Senna: this is a cautiously, even sluggishly paced film which only really gets on to the subject of how very dangerous it is at the every end, in the final coda, showing the kind of horrific accidents, which Stewart was spared, and talking about the safety measures he helped to introduce. (To be fair to Polanski, he could hardly ask Stewart about the possibly of dying in a horrendous fireball in 1971, just as he was climbing into his car.) There is some fascination in the faintly cheesy glamour of the Cote d'Azur at the grand prix, and it is fun to see Princess Grace, along with Ringo Starr and Joan Collins. Perhaps one above all for motor racing fans.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk