18 January 2009
Pour un Maillot Jaune is a cycling documentary of the 1965 Tour de France by director Claude Lelouch, known for it's unconventional narrative style.
I first saw Pour un Maillot Janue about a decade or so ago. I'd seen other classic cycling films such as A Sunday in Hell and Stars and Water Carriers, but there was just something different about this film.
It wasn't simply that it was a historic look at what the Tour de France was like in the mid 1960's -- that in itself was very interesting -- but it was the way the film was structured that captivated me. No dialog. No narration -- the pictures and sounds simply tell the story.
There's just something about Mr. Lelouch's simple, if somewhat disjointed, montage of shots and audio that just pulls me into the film. I feel like I'm taking a whirlwind trip through the tour, catching glimpses of life -- memories -- as the tour develops over it's course. You're with the riders as they enjoy light hearted moments as Tommy Simpson mugs for the camera in a plaid hat and the serious moments of suffering climbs and crashes. It's all part of their days work. You can sense the excitement and the drama. The suffering and the overwhelming ecstasy of victory.
I recently found my old VHS copy and I've watched it several times this week -- every time I watch the film, I notice something different. It's seems exceptionally difficult to find a copy anywhere in the US -- DVD or VHS. If you ever come across a copy and you're the least bit interested in a historical look at Le Tour or film technique -- do yourself a favor and pickup a copy!