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Roger De Vlaeminck,
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The images from the Tour de France in the television production Eddy Merckx in the Vincinity of a Cup of Coffee may be seen as a small sketch for the fully unfurled epic cycling drama Stars and Watercarriers. The film follows the 1973 Giro d'Italia and in his commentary Leth explains the fascination exerted by the great cycle races: "The most beautiful, most pathetic images cycling can give us involve extreme performances in classic terrain." The action literally emerges on the move and the riders readily assume the roles tradition and epic necessity allocate to them, with the central conflict between the accustomed winner and greedy Belgian legend Eddy Merckx and the Spanish mountain specialist José Manuel Fuente. Stars and Watercarriers was created by a small film unit that use a vivid, documentary style to describe the race from close up and sometimes quite from within. The film consist of ten sections, each with a title such as "A road of pain" and "A peaceful day"; thus it ... Written by
Documentary footage of the 1973 Giro d'Italia cycle race
"Stars and Watercarriers" follows the fortunes of Danish cyclist Ole Ritter in the 1973 Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy). The film's undoubted star, however, is the great Eddy Merckx, who dominates the race from start to finish. The film as a whole gives a good insight into the ins and outs of a 3 week stage race, explaining the roles and aims of the different riders in the race. The drama and heartbreak of the mountain stages, the intensity of the time trial ("the race of truth"), the quieter moments on the road, the signing in process of each stage are all covered.
There is some great race footage, featuring some of the greats of cycling, including Merckx, Ritter, Felice Gimondi, Jose Manuel Fuente, Roger de Vlaeminck, Giovanni Battaglin and Gosta Petterson.
The film is quite artfully done and avoids the blandness and cliche of the average sports documentary. There is a real emphasis on the psychology and human element of the race - we see the apparently dejected Ritter in his hotel room staring into space after a bad day in the mountains, for instance, and are given a good insight into the lead up to his time trial performance.
For cycling fans, comprehensive footage of Merckx at his peak, Fuente's daring mountain attacks and Gimondi's panache make this an absorbing and fascinating watch. For the uninformed, the film gives a good insight into the world of pro cycling (minus the more, um, seedy elements). Recommended.
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