This spectacular documentary captures the astounding poetry of the world’s toughest cycling race, the century-old Tour de France – and gets in close with the 2003 German T-Mobile team.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2005
Le Tour de France, the toughest bicycle race of all, celebrated its 100th birthday in 2003. Hell on Wheels captures the astounding poetry of the event, the splendour of the scenery, the beauty of the squad of cyclists sweeping through town and country and the circus of media, business and spectators that surrounds their every move. Embedded with the German T-Mobile team, filmmaker Pepe Danquart also captures the close-up view; the apprehension, torture and fragility of the cyclists vying for honours and survival. Bringing us remarkably close to cylists Erik Zabel and Rolf Adlag, Hell on Wheels burrows into their limited down time off the road during Le Tour. In conversation with each other, their equally tireless masseur and the filmmaker, they are completely honest in explaining their fears, expectations and their addiction to Le Tour. The filmmakers dip into the massive archives of Tour de France footage to show us how much things have changed for competitors in a century, and how much they have stayed the same.
“As the team travels 2500 kilometres up hill and down dale, through rain and shine in their single minded pursuit of victory, Danquart and Schweizer paint an unusual portrait of sporting passion… Hell on Wheels is an entertaining and somewhat educational story of addiction, endurance and survival.” — Colin Fraser, Film Ink
“The Tour like you’ve never seen before: on the climb to the mythic Tourmalet, you sweat with the protagonists, barely recognize the route during the time trial in the rain and almost fall off your chair when Lance Armstrong crashes.” — www.t-mobile-team.com