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A Sunday Day in Hell (1977)
"En forårsdag i Helvede" (original title)

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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 395 users  
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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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Title: A Sunday Day in Hell (1977)

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Credited cast:
David Saunders ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Roger De Vlaeminck ...
Marc Demeyer ...
Freddy Maertens ...
Eddy Merckx ...
Ole Ritter ...


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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Release Date:

25 February 1977 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

A Sunday Day in Hell  »

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User Reviews

Interesting but never more than that and most likely not for the casual viewer
11 August 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Starting with the preparation needed by the teams and cyclists prior to the event, this film follows one of the oldest and most famous one day classic bike races the Paris-Roubaix. Mixing country roads with more urban settings, the race is a challenging event that goes across cobbled roads and increasingly tough terrain. We watch the race to see the field gradually weeded down to the winners and the fate of the losers and the support riders.

The Paris-Roubaix is a great race we are told, but you wouldn't necessarily know it from this film which, although interesting, certainly doesn't inflame the passions in the casual viewer. I'm not a fan or even a follower of cycling so I suspect that this film was not aimed at me and fans of this sport can probably ignore many of my criticisms because they may not be problems for everyone. In essence the film does a good job of just showing the race from the inside – the tactics, the falls, the challenges but it does it all in a very cold, mechanical fashion that keeps it "interesting" but never more than that. The delivery doesn't help; the version I saw had English narration but no subtitles when any one else is speaking (directly to camera or not). This stopped me getting any insight from the people involved or even get to know them as people enough to care about the outcome of the race.

The narration is good but it doesn't help the film be more than "interesting". The English narration is sparse and rather detached from the action; it is better than an OTT commentator type but it does give you the feeling that the action is as ordinary as his consistent tone of voice suggests. The riders are the teams lack character (an important thing in sportsmen) but this may be down to me not being able to understand anything they said – perhaps those familiar with the riders will be more taken by them than I was.

Overall this is an interesting film that looks at the events during the race with a detached but slightly curious air that tended to keep me interested. However the lack of flair, passion or real insight was a problem and I didn't think it even got past this. Although the narration was quite good, the lack of subtitles took away from the riders etc and many viewers might feel (like I did) that the inability to understand the asides and interviews mean that you'll be missing out on some of the best bits of the film.

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