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If you are a fan of cycling and fascinated with bicycle race history
this is a must see short film. Shown in the film are a number of the
all time great racers - such as Jacques Anquetil (first 5-time winner
of the Tour De France). But, this film does not focus on heroes by any
means. Most of the footage shows the and seldom considered and rarely
seen moments which made this famous race such a unique part of French
We can observe groups of racers dashing into small cafés along the route where they literally steal any glass bottles of beer or wine which they can carry away stuffed in their Jersey pockets. Then they share their loot with riders of opposing teams as they all ride on. Then, of course, nature calls. Now we see dismounted racers stopped in private moments as they stand at the roadside to relieve themselves and another even executes the awkward pose from his saddle while a teammate riding beside pushes the bike. We would never see Lance Armstrong stopping to dip his overheated shoes in a village fountain, and riders today would never happily drink from a crude plastic container offered by a fan along the route or stop to fill water bottles from a public fountain or a fan's garden hose. Reporters at days end type their copy on portable manual typewriters (not laptop computers)... and they phone in press reports from rows of tables trailing miles of phone wires and fitted with small canopies to shield each telephone from the loud multilingual din during this era long before the ever present cell phone and satellite video links.
Nuns and priests flock to the roadside and cheer on the racers passing through rural villages right along with what must be the entire population of France. It is not simply a race but joyous national event. Colorful corporate sponsored vehicles (comparable in their local familiarity to the Oscar-Meyer "Weinermobile" in the US) follow the tour, some throwing publicity trinkets into the crowds of fans, and a carnival like atmosphere is present all along the route.
Some racers still carry extra sew-up tires wrapped over their shoulders just as they did many decades earlier. On the dark side, each day, some riders claiming a dinner of "bad fish" but in fact exhausted from taking too many amphetamines slump at the roadside unable to continue. Helmets were simply never worn. One rider bleeding badly from his head but still riding, is aided by his team car... they just stuff a bit of bandage against the wound to be held down by a cotton cycling cap. And the famous "Broom Wagon" which follows the main convoy of official vehicles is seen as it stops to "sweep up" the occasional straggler who has finally given up his race.
The film is like a collection of countless candid snapshots from a time and Tour which we will never see again. I would guess a 16 mm. Arriflex would have been all anyone could have mounted on any following vehicle and the quality of the footage is not flawless. The film was later copyrighted by the director in 1976, but it was shot 14 years earlier. So, this was not a polished work by the same director of later years. He was only 30 years old at the time and with only 2 feature films under his belt. But he clearly had a Frenchman's passion for cycling and a keen eye for the whole atmosphere surrounding the event. I think it is a truly wonderful little treat and one which I am still pleased to have found - and have watched repeatedly.
Louis Malle's 19 minute take on the Tour de France is a masterpiece. I loved it. Rapid cutting puts you into the Tour in ways that modern coverage have not matched, partly I think because we know better than to let crazy people near the riders. With narration that is made up of commentary of the riders and the event we see the joys of winning, the agony of losing and just whats its like to ride. Since the film is not about a race or a stage of the race, rather about what its like to race we have time to see what it must be like to ride. We see the riders up close and see the pain on their faces. We see crashes, drink raids (stopping at roadside bar and stealing drinks), the crowd whizzing by and the people who help the riders. Its a whirl wind 19 minutes and I was ready to start the film all over again once I finished it.
a short fun film about the tour de France by Louis Malle later director of a revoir les enfants and other fine films. we see many parts of the tour some that I'm sure are not at all present in modern day versions of the event such as fans pushing bikers up the mountain stages. some incredible scenes such as a biker bleeding from the head being treated as he rides, and a biker so exhausted that he collapses as he rides. the editing is quick and jumpy and suits the nature of the race especially at the end. and at 19 minutes it flys by definitely worth a viewing. Available in the eclipse boxset the documentaries of Louis malle highly recommended purchase.
"Vive Le Tour" is an intimate, bizarre, somewhat humorous- and very cinematic- look at the intricacies and internal politics of the Tour de France. Existing somewhere between comedy and documentary, Malle gives us the privilege of observing the tour, it's riders, the fans, and even the journalists like never before. Chock full of non-diegetic sounds and epic musical numbers we watch as journalists feast, sleep and basically live on their motorcycles while they cover the racers; as injured racers are airlifted in coffins attached to the outside of an oldschool medivac copter; and as racers stop, run into restaurants and raid everything from beer to soda, which they carry with them and drink as they ride (after which the Tour is billed). If you aren't impressed by how some riders are able to urinate without stopping...then I don't know what will impress you!!! A truly bizarre and entertaining look at the Tour de France like you've never seen! Interesting to note that "doping" was a serious problem that was threatening the sport even in 1962!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am not sure if I would call myself one of them. I certainly was roughly 10 years ago, but my interest in the sport has faded considerably over the last years. And now I rarely check the results even. Bit I still somewhat enjoyed "Vive le tour". It is a French language documentary from the early years of filmmaker Louis Malle. It only runs for 19 minutes and the narrator is Jean Bobet, a former cyclist himself. This is only about the Tour de France and if you know a bit about cycling you will know that the early 1960s were the years when Jacques Anquetil dominated the race. But it is not really about the specific races or names, but more about the spirit. We see riders suffer for their triumphs. We see the audience's enthusiasm. And we also hear about doping already, which was definitely a problem at this point as well. And it stayed a problem for many more decades, probably even until today over 50 years later. Make sure you get subtitles if you are not fluent in French. I recommend "Vive le tour".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The only negative thing that I can say about Vive La Tour(1962) is that
it's way too short. I could've easily gone on watching this truly
incredible doc for another 2 hours.
I think that one of the possible reasons that this film is only 18 mins longs is that creating just the 18 mins was so labor intensive. Although the credits list only 3 cinematographers, I'm quite sure that there were a dozen or more cameramen working simultaneously during each part of the race that is shown. That's the only way that I can figure out how the film sees the action not only in the race itself, but among the spectators as well from so many different camera positions, seemingly at the same or perhaps at closely proximate points in time. If indeed it took the number of cameramen and cameras that I suspect were needed to produce this film, not to mention the additional equipment and back up crews needed to support each cameraman, then the true cost of producing just an 18 min film must have been prohibitive. From this perspective, maybe an 18 min film is all that the filmmakers could afford.
Anyway, the film never does make clear if it's about a particular running of the Tour de France or if it's even a patchwork of clips from several different years. Nor is there a declaration in the film about who the 3 winners on the dais at the end of the film even are. This is because this doc is not at all about the winning or the losing of this race but, rather, it is an intimate look at the race through a logging of many mundane, even trivial details about what it's like just to EXPERIENCE the Tour de France, both from the perspective of a racer & from the perspective of a roadside spectator.
This doc is an incredibly "inside", multi-faceted, multi-perspective, & intimate look at a complex social event that exceeds the perceptual capabilities of any 1 person who even has anything to do with that social event. From that standpoint, this little 18 min film is without a doubt the very best documentary that I've ever viewed about any topic.
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