LOVE LANCE? You'll love HELL ON WHEELS, the first film about professional bike racing that anyone can appreciate, featuring the world's best bike racers -- Lance Armstrong, Eric Zabel, Jan Ullrich, Tyler Hamilton, Alexandre Vinokurov, Andreas Klöden-- and directed by Academy Award-winner Pepe Danquart!
Le Tour de France, one of the toughest and most prestigious sporting events in the world. Year after year hundreds of thousands of fans line the route, cheering on their heroes and willing them to victory, while millions of viewers worldwide tune in on their televisions. Academy Award-winning director Pepe Danquart, fascinated by the spectacle of the three week race, chose to focus on the courage, the pain and the fear of the riders of the Tour.
Training his lens on German superstar sprinter Eric Zabel and his loyal domestique Rolf Aldag, Danquart captures the thrill of the race and the teamwork behind the stars of the peleton. He also shines light on the Tour's supporting cast - the director sportifs, masseurs, and, of course, the wildly enthusiastic fans. Reveling in the stunning landscape - from the Alps to the Pyrenees to the Massif Central to Paris - and with a nice dollop of Le Tour's history, HELL ON WHEELS transcends the sport it celebrates to reveal an astonishing human endeavor.
There may never be a better documentary about the Tour de France bicycle race than Hell on Wheels
. Directed by German filmmaker Pepe Danquart (who won an Oscar® for best live action short film in 1994), this breathtaking documentary covers all aspects of the 2003 edition of the Tour de France
, and it's likely to remain the definitive record of the event from an immediate you-are-there perspective. Outstanding cinematography, award-winning editing, and the extreme challenge of the Tour make this a truly unforgettable film, full of real-life drama and fascinating competitors who bring a deeply human dimension to cycling's annual extravaganza. This was the year that American cycling legend Lance Armstrong won his fifth consecutive Tour de France victory, but Danquart's film wisely avoids overemphasis on Armstrong's dominance, focusing instead on German teammates Eric Zabel and Rolf Aldag, whose 11-year history as Tour de France roommates lends the film a more personal quality that gets you right inside the Tour's physical and psychological endurance test. The July 2003 event marked the Tour's centenary celebration, and French scholar Serge Laget provides valuable perspective on the race's cultural importance in France, with vintage film clips to illustrate how the grueling 2,500-kilometer Tour has evolved--and stayed the same--throughout its 100-year history. Highlights are abundant (including Armstrong's nearly devastating crash late in the race), but Hell on Wheels
goes beyond basic sports reportage to achieve the dramatic impact of a feature film. Danquart strikes a satisfying balance between beautiful travelogue footage of the French countryside (including the Tour's scenic stages in the Pyrenees mountains) and the veteran's perspective of Zabel, whose honest assessment of his own cycling abilities makes you realize that even great cyclists view the Tour with awe, fear, and inspiring courage. In capturing the beauty, pain, and glory of cycling's most daunting competition, Hell on Wheels
caters to a specific audience while retaining its universal appeal as a colorful and exhilarating film that anyone can enjoy. --Jeff Shannon