12 juin 2015

Louis Malle celebrates the Tour


"VIVE LE TOUR !" may not be director Louis Malle’s best-known film, but it’s certainly one of the most original. This film short, shot in 1962, places the  spectator at the heart of the peloton. The bright colours of the vests, the excited buzz of the crowds, the pain and the exploits literally explode from the screen.

18 minutes is quite sufficient to grasp the essentials. Louis Malle’s camera takes us among the runners and shows us the Tour de France from a new angle. “Long live the Tour” leaves the surprisingly raw sounds of the team ringing in the spectator’s ears. From time to time the commentary breaks through to comment on the race, with a reminder of the harsh realities of the lack of food supplies or a fall. A decade before “The Greatest Show On Earth”, the feature film shot during the 1974 Giro that glorified Eddy Merckx at the peak of his career, Louis Malle’s documentary had created a precedent in cinematography.

This production brings together many talents. Louis Malle, whose films “Ascenseur pour l’échafaud” (“Elevator to the Gallows”) in 1957 and “Zazie dans le Metro” (“Zazie in the Metro”) in 1960 had brought him recognition, returned to the documentary format following the success of “Le monde du silence” (The Silent World”) co-directed with Jacques-Yves Cousteau in 1955. Georges Delerue also proved his talents as a composer with the difficult task of musical soundtrack illustration, which later led to work with directors François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard. Jean Bobet, Louison’s brother, excelled in the quality of his commentary, proof of his expertise and journalistic style.

1962, the year “Long Live the Tour” was shot, was a special year for competitive cycling. Jacques Anquetil won the Grande boucle to come level with the three victories that had just brought Louison Bobet’s career to a close. The year also marked the return of brand names and their distinctive vests, and a new French talent became known to the public when Raymond Poulidor finished 3rd in his first Tour.

The movie: 

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