The story of Jann Mardenborough’s accident in Gran Turismo and why it has caused some controversy

Archie Madekwe as Jann Mardenborough.
Archie Madekwe as Jann Mardenborough. Pic credit: Sony Pictures

Gran Turismo is one of the best crowd-pleasers in a long time; that said, it’s caused some mild controversy among some commentators online.

The film is an exciting retelling of the rise of Jann Mardenborough as a professional racer and the impressive way he overcame the optics of a corporate gimmick.

It’s almost like Ford v Ferrari but with a gamer twist.

That said, one sequence in question has garnered interest online.

And what might surprise some readers is the sequence in question has sparked some mild controversy.

Spoilers will follow for moviegoers who are unfamiliar with the real-life story or have not seen the film.

Here is what happened and why it has caused some pushback.

Jann Mardenborough accident: What actually happened?

The movie Gran Turismo portrays the unfortunate incident in which Jann Mardenborough lost control of his car and flipped off the racecourse.

The event occurred at the Nürburgring in Germany, and as Mardenborough told ESPN Sportscenter in 2017, “It’s the best track in the world. It’s my favorite track.” But as Sportscenter notes, the track has killed over 70 people.

The movie retells the tragedy accurately. Mardenborough’s Nissan GTR Nismo flipped upward and rolled into a crowd of spectators. Several were injured, including one person who lost their life.

Mardenborough, however, did not let the accident deter him from racing and got back behind the wheel a week later.

This unfortunate incident took place in 2015, not in 2013, before the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The movie’s altered timeline of events to create a dramatic storyline has sparked controversy.

Jann Mardenborough crash controversy explained

As stated, the film maneuvers the tragic moment from 2015 to 2013.

In doing so, critics argue the film misuses a tragic death to create a dramatic underdog moment for the main character.

Reviewer Oli Welsh pulled no punches in his review at Polygon, writing, “There is one particularly troubling aspect to the way American Sniper co-writer Jason Hall and Creed III co-writer Zach Baylin frame the accident, a freak occurrence at the Nürburgring circuit that killed a spectator…”

Welsh closes with a finishing haymaker, writing, “While the crash did happen pretty much as depicted, Hall and Baylin’s screenplay time-shifts it in order to stage it as a defining, motivating setback on Mardenborough’s hero’s journey to his Le Mans podium. The actual accident happened years later—arguably a tasteless reframing of a fatal event.”

Slashfilm further roasted the experience, citing the fact the person who died (and their family) were not mentioned by name at all. The outlet explains, “[Gran Turismo] misrepresents this event as one that vaulted the protagonist to greatness and the idea of a Sony-produced film essentially hand-waving a spectator’s death — one who is never given any actual screen time in the film, nor their family — caused by a driver sponsored by a Sony-owned company (PlayStation) can’t help but feel somewhat pernicious.”

However, Mardenborough responded to some of the controversy, stating he insisted the event be in the film in some form. Talking to Express, the racer says, “When this was discussed whether to be in the movie or not – it had to be in the movie because it’s part of my life. It is my life; I lived through that. It’s a very dark moment in my career and in my life as a person.”

In all honesty, there are valid arguments on both sides of this debate. The way the real-life incident was portrayed on screen may have been mishandled and unsuitable for the sake of creating dramatic effect.

However, it’s possible that Mardenborough and the filmmakers had good intentions when including it in the film, as the crash was a defining moment in his career.

Ultimately, the Gran Turismo’s destiny will be decided by moviegoers when they roll out to cinemas this weekend.

Gran Turismo is now playing everywhere.

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