A Sunday In Hell (9:45pm)

From the mind of Jorgen Leth, one of Scandinavia’s filmmaking legends, comes the ultimate portrait of one of Europe’s most grueling cycling events.  Few people think of mud, sweat, blood, pain, agony and other unmentionables when something as sweet-sounding as “bicycle race” is uttered, but the annual Paris-Roubaix tour, one of professional cycling’s oldest contests, has rightly earned its moniker of “A Sunday In Hell.”  Armed with what seems like an entire French village’s worth of cameramen, and a brilliantly minimalist, Popol Vuh-esque synth score, Leth seamlessly builds the mounting tension throughout the 1976 tour’s events — from pre-game breakfast pig-outs, to the frantic opening salvos by race frontrunners, flat tires, bruised riders carried away on stretchers and beyond.  With a deft, Spielbergian flair for tracking an endless number of racers’ positions throughout the journey, Leth brilliantly pours on the claustrophobia, as both racers and their carloads of support teams hurtle towards each other in a death-defying 40MPH ballet (conducted mostly on shared small-town cobblestone roads.)  A bike fanatic’s dream documentary, and one of the great sports films of all time.
Dir. Jorgen Leth, 1976, 35mm, 111 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “A Sunday In Hell”!