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, Alexandr... more »e Vinokurov, Andreas Kl÷den-- 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.« less
Stephen Triesch | Shoreline/Seattle USA | 01/11/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First, what this film is NOT: it is NOT a documentary of the 2003 Tour-de-France, even though that is where all the action takes place. When the film is over, you won't even know - unless you already knew - that the race was won by Lance Armstrong, nor will you know who finished second and third, or who won most of the stages. The film does not follow the normal storyline of a race documentary.
What, then, DOES it do? It gives an inside look at what it feels like to be a professional cyclist racing in the Tour-de-France, as seen through the eyes of the German Telekom team (now renamed T-Mobile.) Focusing largely on veteran riders Eric Zabel, Rolf Aldag (since retired), and Andreas Kloden, we get behind the scenes to see what life is really like in big-time cycling. And what we see is a world simultaneously more beautiful, graceful, painful, and smelly than what we see on regular television coverage of the Tour.
"Hell on wheels," indeed, for we see the sweat rolling from the riders' faces, the stress, the injuries, the almost military regimen of a virtually all-male world.
We see the rubdowns, the shaving of legs, the plastering of buttocks with anti-rash gel, the injection of (legal) vitamins and supplements, the urination by the side of the road. We see the dirty side of the sport.
But we also see the grace, and we feel the danger. We see the cyclists at speed, and we feel it. Most television coverage of the Tour is taken from vehicles moving at the same speed as the cyclists, so the sense of speed and danger is often lost. This film captures those elements.
And we also see the roadside spectacle, the picnics, the parties, the campers, the police, the traveling Tour caravan, the circus elements of the Tour, which are often noted only in passing in television accounts of the race.
Those who expected this to be an objective re-telling of the 2003 Tour were undoubtedly disappointed. But I disagree with those reviewers who said this film would be unintelligible to those who are not racing fans. On the contrary, I think this would be an excellent introduction to the sport for non-fans. Focusing on the inner nature of the sport, rather than on the results of a particular race, it is an excellent introduction indeed."
A Humanizing View of Athletes
Randall Crist | Omaha, NE USA | 02/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This documentary, covering the T-Mobile team during the 2003 Tour de France, is a superb portrait of the life of a professional athlete. Erik Zabel is seen at the beginning of the downside of his outstanding career as a sprinter, unable to beat the younger lions of the sport. The massage sessions after the race and the discussions during them are outstanding for their insight into the pysche of a cyclist competing at a world-class level. Rolf Aldag and other domestiques illustrate the motivational challenges faced by those that make a living racing bicycles out of the limelight of the Zabels, Armstrongs and Ullrichs, and physical toll it takes to compete in the most famous race in the world. Television coverage never really gives us the pictures that this film does-all of the nitty gritty details that go into racing, and surviving, in the Tour. Highly recommended."
A Cycling Film for the Ages
Jim Joyce, Bikexchange.com | Pittsburgh, PA United States | 02/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lance Armstrong's unforgettable speech to the world press gathered on the eve of the 2003 Tour de France sets this mystical, magical masterpiece in motion.
"I show up prepared," says Armstrong, dead serious. "I show up motivated and I show up because I love it and respect it and I want to do well. Nothing means more to me than to win this event."
What follows is a sports documentary that is gorgeous and grandiose while at the same time gritty and down to earth.
This is cycling film that should be seen by anyone who considers himself a sports fan. It should be shown in phys. ed. and geography classes across America. This is the cycling film that would win the hearts and respect of a people who have never watched - nor cared to watch - a professional cycling race. And this is the cycling film that allows the cycling fan to forget the drug-accusation cloud hanging over professional cycling, and reminds us just how much there is to love about "The Tour."
Rather than interviewing the racers and filming every stage of their performance, director Danquart turns on the camera, places it in the team bus and motels, and the riders themselves tell their incredible story with class and wit. We see close up the pain and humanity of the great German sprinter, Eric Zabel. While he, and to a lesser degree, teammate Rolf Aldag and Team Telekom, are the key players, equally important are the cast of thousands and the wonderful countryside and small towns that make up the Tour. Though the stunning bird's eye views of the race are beautiful and essential to understand the Tour, much of the footage is shot at ground level, making you feel you're a fan in the crowd, or a medic leaning over a fallen rider, scraped and bloodied, or a photographer lying horizontal on the asphalt, next to scores of other photographers from around the world. You, literally, are there.
Sweetening this masterwork is plenty of excellent footage of the big stars. Lance, Jan Ulrich, Ivan Basso, and especially Tyler Hamilton (and the story behind his broken collarbone) are all seen in great action shots. We also are treated to rise of T-Mobile's Alexandre "Vino" Vinokourov, of Kazakstan (no relation whatsoever to Borat).
History lovers will appreciate intermittent black and white film archives of old races alongside the fresh images and the Tour lore as told by French journalist Serge Laget, who shows no less pride in the event and his country's role in it as would John Madden of NFL football, or Bob Costas of Major League Baseball.
Another remarkable feature of the film is the music, which is apparently (and incredibly) an original score. The cool, jazzy numbers and electric guitar solos are just incredible.
To describe any more of this film would be to rob the reader of all the unexpected treasures I discovered. I plan to watch it again and again. It's that good. (Plus I want to re-read those subtitles!).
You ought to see it. No--you have to see it."
This DVD got me into cycling
Dieter S. | 03/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had just started cycling with some friends on one of those recreational tours when I got this DVD on a whim. It is such an awesome experience to view what is going on behind the scenes that it really turned me on to cycling. Even if you are not into cycling you will enjoy the humor and sacrifices of these riders.
And should you ever experience 'road rash' you will find instructions on how the pro's address these injuries. (But are you gutsy enough to do it???!!!! ;o) )
Well worth watching if you have ANY interest into the Tour or cycling in general."
Hell on Wheels Tour de France
Bike Rider | 07/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Absolutely fantastic. I've been a licensed bicycle racer for 21 years. I've never seen anything that gets into the hearts and minds (as well as the performance) of professional cyclists like this."