Gran Turismo, the story of a revolution

The film that tells the story of Sony and Nissan’s coup in the world of motorsports in 2008 is coming to cinemas: GT Academy.

Fifa, Pes, NBA, NHL, Colin McRae Rally: The years between the old and the new millennium were marked by video games, the constant of which was sport in virtual format (and very often arcade), which later became a symbol of modern pop culture. In the automotive sector, in addition to the above, there is CMR The Gran Turismo series changed the approach to driving forever.

The real driving simulator was not only a digital encyclopedia, thereby contributing to the spread of automotive culture in Western countries, but also consisted of teaching users how to drive, how to drive on the racetrack. GT licenses have gone down in history, as have online endurance races that lasted up to 24 (real) hours.

However, the most extraordinary project to emerge from the Gran Turismo video game was undoubtedly the birth of GT Academy in the early 2000s. It is no coincidence that the film adaptation tells of this incredible story.

With the exponential technological development of hardware and software in driving simulators, why not try to select racers through an online competition carried out using your own copy of the video game at home, thus making motorsports accessible to (almost) everyone? This question came to Darren Cox’s mind in 2005, then head of marketing for Nissan Europe. A simple but brilliant idea, but a real revolution in an extremely complex, elitist and expensive world like car racing.

The idea immediately came to another protagonist of this story, the Japanese Kazunori Yamauchi, creator of Gran Turismo and founder of Polyphony Digital and vice president of Sony. The GT Academy was born in 2008 from the meeting of these two wild and brilliant minds. Gran Turismo is nothing more than the reconstructed and not too fictionalized story of Jann Mardenborough, winner of the Academy in 2011.

The film simplifies, in the initial stages the period of about a month of online selection is very easy. Cars, track, tires, equal conditions for everyone – the top 20 of the classification went to the next phase, a national final (the academy is European and the first phases of national selections) in which the top two from each registered nation received the ticket to Silverstone, home of the next phase, the real driver academy.

Here the participants were put to the test in all areas of being a professional driver, from physical to mental and psychological fitness, from media skills and of course speed. Jann wins the academy and becomes a driver for Nissan, which is also sponsored by Sony. Hence the story of a dream come true, the underdog adventure of an enthusiast who catapulted himself from virtual to real pilot in just a few weeks.

Beyond the script and the sometimes somewhat flat writing style, the story of Mardenborough and the GT Academy in general made the production of possible a racing film that is finally relevant. A young, modern, but no less epic and fascinating motorsport story.

There is the democratization of a sport with insurmountable barriers to entry, there is the talent, will and courage of a boy with passion that is not anachronistic but vital in a digitalized world.

A truly inspiring story, a far cry from the pretentious fairy tales that are so fashionablea story of real sport, in a world where the presence of digital and virtual reality is increasingly mixed with real reality and the opportunities are highlighted.

There’s more to come a quality of photography that had never been seen in a racing filman exciting, captivating and immersive montage, seasoned with sounds and augmented reality with constant reference to video games, capable of attracting an audience that does not belong to the automotive niche, but especially young people.

A film that tells us about motorsport in the 2000s, brings out today’s charm and goes beyond the museum nostalgia that we are all too often used to. A motorsport reminiscent of the metaverse that transforms traditional feelings, emotions and ethos thanks to Jann’s storya non-son of art who, precisely because of this, manages to bring new epic into a tired environment tied to past patterns and who perhaps needs exactly this to rekindle his passion.

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