The film follows the French Paris-Roubaix spring classic, notorious for the hellish paves or cobbled roads of the north "which are no longer used for traffic but only for transporting ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
David Saunders ...
Narrator
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Roger De Vlaeminck ...
Himself
Marc Demeyer ...
Himself
Freddy Maertens ...
Himself
...
Himself
Ole Ritter ...
Himself
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Storyline

The film follows the French Paris-Roubaix spring classic, notorious for the hellish paves or cobbled roads of the north "which are no longer used for traffic but only for transporting cattle - and for cycle races". We are there from the dawn preparations and rituals on the outskirts of Paris and through the rigours of the race with special focus on a number of prominent cyclists to the final outcome on the Roubaix cycle track - followed by the filthy riders taking their showers. There is also an eye for life among the spectators and the media event as such. The film alternates among different kinds of shot with a view to establishing the most suitable view of the narrative: shots from motorcycles, which are able to convey the motion of the race and provide close ups of the riders in the style of television cycle race reporting; fixed cameras stationed at strategically important points along the route, where viewers can watch riders passing in real time and thus gain a clear overview ... Written by Anonymous

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Documentary | Sport

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25 February 1977 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

A Sunday Day in Hell  »

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Jørgen Leth himself regards this as a very insignificant film in his filmography. See more »

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Featured in Gintberg på kanten: Gug (2015) See more »

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Vivid Evocation of a Bygone World
16 July 2014 | by (London) – See all my reviews

Jorgen Leth's film takes us back to the 1976 Paris-Roubaix spring classic cycle race, notable for its cobbled streets which were seldom used - except for this race. The film concentrates on several of the stars of the time, including Eddy Merckx and the then up-and-coming star Freddy Maertens. With commentary provided by the late David Saunders, at the time the major figure in cycling journalism, A SUMMER Sunday IN HELL is a treat for cycling nostalgics. However Leth transforms the event into something more than just a race: through skillful use of different types of shot - close-ups, aerial shots of the pack of racers passing through chocolate-box French towns, slow-motion shots - he makes aware of the aesthetic beauty of the event. To watch racers passing through streets in geometric shapes, or to watch an individual cyclist pedaling so hard like an automaton, is to understand why the sport exerts such a fascination for mass audiences. Leth is also concerned with the race as a social occasion: we see several shots of spectators passing the time in bars by singing, drinking, or eating; or small groups of village people passing the time of day on a glorious summer's day; or panning shots of spectators lining the route and cheering as the cyclists speed by. The film is a social history of the time, showing the hair-styles, clothes and mannerisms characteristic of the mid-Seventies. Saunders' commentary is sparse; on several occasions all we hear are the cyclists, their team-members and other officials talking in a variety of languages - French, Flemish, Italian. No subtitles are provided; but this is deliberate, as Leth wants to emphasize the internationality of the occasion, that contrasts with the rural settings in which the race takes place. The world of professional cycling was (and still is) a self-enclosed world, whose riders move from race to race; they live in a sporting bubble, which takes little or no account of the different venues in which the events take place. Unlike the spectators watching the event, the cyclists themselves are divorced from the 'real' world of daily life. A SUMMER Sunday IN HELL is a fascinating sociological document that works on several levels. Definitely worth a look.


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