By Gregory Crofton
Director David Gelb brings his glossy, precise style to deliver yet another powerful movie with A FASTER HORSE, a documentary streaming on Netflix that’s about designing and engineering the 50th anniversary model of the Ford Mustang.
Gelb, the director behind the hypnotically shot JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI and CHEF’S TABLE series, has a knack for mixing personal storylines and exquisite photography to produce compelling stories about superior craftsmanship.
A FASTER HORSE is more than a commercially commissioned doc ordered up to celebrate the work of Ford because of Gelb’s attention to detail, its deft editing — which does a good job of jumping back and forth in time — and his knack for running down interesting facts.
You learn about the career of Lee Iacocca, the charismatic leader at Ford, who oversaw the development of the Mustang. He eventually was fired from the company because of his big ego.
You also discover how crucially important Ford’s supplier companies are, how it cost $75 million to develop and launch a new car model in the early 1960s, and how Ford sold one million Mustangs in the first 18 months.
In the end, the redesign of the 2015 Ford Mustang was and is a smashing success, though the reach of the film doesn’t cover how well it sold. Instead it concludes with pats on the back all around and a promotion for the chief engineer.
But last year the Ford Mustang easily outsold the competition, the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger, with sales surpassing the 100,000 mark. Camaro had handily beaten the Mustang the previous five years.
So the lesson here is this: If David Gelb is involved with a documentary project, even if it’s commissioned by a major corporation, make sure you stop and take a look.