To properly tell the story of Peter Brock isn’t just to spin a yarn about a racing car driver who happened to win a particular motor race a few times more than the next bloke.
It shouldn't be about hiding the human flaws of a true icon of modern Australian culture, either - or hanging him for the same.
Telling that tale of derring-do and dastardly deeds is a dilemma that’s been faced by writers and directors over the course of the last three decades - and it's a subject that's been treated poorly by some.
Only now, 14 years after the death of Peter Geoffrey Brock, has a film managed to walk the line between deification and denigration as finely and empathetically as Brock: Over the Top.
Intended for a wider cinematic release, the crushing impact of COVID-19 on movie theatres has resulted in the 105-minute long epic largely relegated to a digital roll-out… and this, folks, is a crying shame, because it's a beauty.
Director Kriv Stenders (Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan, Red Dog) takes the various threads of Brock’s life and career and weaves them into a well-paced narrative that leaves the viewer equal parts spellbound, angered, dismayed and overjoyed right the way through.
How did Peter Brock start racing? Did Peter Brock abuse his wife? Was Peter Brock wrong about the Polariser? “It’s the rise and fall and rise and fall and rise and fall of Peter,” as his brother Phil says in his role as one of the observers of Brock’s meteoric ascent and crashing returns to earth throughout the course of his 61 years.
Largely anchored by former Street Machine and Wheels editor Phil Scott’s unvarnished observations from the eye of the media tornado that was the Brock phenomenon, Brock: Over the Top pulls few punches as it examines not only Brock’s place in the motor racing lexicon but the sizable impact that the affable Victorian had on Australia’s cultural landscape from the late 1970s to his death in 2006.
Ably supported by reams of previously unseen vision that captures Brock’s racing career, business world and private life, the film also exposes the motoring industry that not only put Brock on the map but asked for its pound of flesh in return, setting the scene for the rise of the automotive juggernauts that Holden, then Ford, would become.
The Best of Brocky
- Peter Brock at Goodwood: classic Wheels
- Brock's Autoart Holden Commodore Supercar for sale
- Huge Brock car collection auctioned off
- Peter Brock in pictures
Some of the observations of Brock’s behaviours have never before been uttered so publically. “At one stage, he’d have his steering wheel in one hand and his dick in the other,” drawls one of his former mechanics when discussing Brock’s rock-star status of the late 1970s.
The contentious subject of Brock’s first marriage to supermodel Michelle Dawes, and his subsequent betrothal to Bev Brock and relationship with Julie Bamford, are discussed at length – without spoiling the film, it manages to deal well with a sensitive issue that is viewed in a far different light in 2020 than it was in the 1980s.
Bev Brock in 2016 (Wheels)
The movie also briefly but poignantly touches on the events surrounding Brock’s death in a road rally in 2006 without wallowing in the maudlin or the macabre.
Brock: Over the Top’s production values are impressively high, and the film neither talks down to non-racing fans or fails to pay regard to Brock's legions of passionate fans who will be naturally drawn to the film.
Even in death, Brock’s stature and status still affects those that loved him most, with cuttingly raw emotion still evident in the retelling almost 14 years after his untimely passing.
Ultimately, Brock: Over the Top provides a fascinating interpretation of a mercurial Australian character’s folk tale, which brought unbridled joy to so many at the expense of an important few.
- 1979 Holden VB Commodore (Repco Round-Australia)
- 1979 Holden Torana A9X (Bathurst 1000)
- 1982 Holden Commodore VH (Big Banger)
- 1987 HDT VL Calais Director (Brock's last HDT)
- Peter Brock
- Beverley Brock
- James Brock
- Alexandra Brock
- Phil Brock
- Lewis Brock
- Michelle Downes
- Julie Bamford
- Dick Johnson
- Allan Moffat
- Peter Harvey
- Craig Lowndes
- Phil Scott
- David Hassall
- Greg Rust
There are reams of never-before-seen footage from Brock's life, including crowd footage from the scenes of arguably his greatest wins at Mt Panorama in 1979.
As well, there is archival footage from Le Mans, his time as the owner/CEO of HDT, family home movies, Holden promotional material and more.
Brock: Over the Top is available to rent from Friday 3 July on Apple TV, Fetch, Foxtel Movies, Google Play, Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox