Scott Coady’s behind the scenes look at the 2000 Tour de France. 2004, Color, Roughly 100min.
Originality: 3. This is a fairly unique film. It starts off as the messy, off-the-cuff sort of video any cycling nut would make at the Tour, but grows into something with style and direction as Scott gets more and more “behind the scenes”. Sure, there are a couple of moments where you’re reliving “The Cutters” or “The Lance Chronicles” but for the most part, it’s an entirely new diversion.
Watchability: 4. This was close to getting the full five points, but the first 15 minutes or so are a little tough to get into, with long takes and not enough meat. It’s exciting to see Scott’s first glimpse of a mass start peloton from the roof of a garage, but the distant shot the viewer gets after all that build-up is a bit weak. Still, once Scott finds himself with some media passes, it’s easy to get into.
Variety: 5. It’s just awesome. Pretty much anything you can name about the Tour de France is in the flick, in a way you’ve never seen it before. From betting with sourpuss German fans, to a spontaneous interview with Paul Sherwen at the mobile phone store, to getting a haircut with Jacky Durand, it’s tough to imagine a more comprehensive cross-section of the three-week circus that is the Tour de France.
Style: 4. The word “amateur” has negative connotations today, but the Latin geeks out there will tell you that it’s derived from the word “amare” meaning “to love”. It’s that kind of nervous, clueless, “I-can’t-believe-I’m-actually-here” excitement that really defines this piece. It’s occasionally grating, but it’s the little unscripted flubs, like drunkenly writing “ARMSTRO” on the road before running out of space, or realizing mid-interview that Salvatore Commesso has no clue how to speak English, that really set this DVD apart.
Bonus Features: 3. The commentary is insightful, and really lets the viewer know how the film got put together. There’s an interesting section of outtakes, as well as a few featurettes on later Tours de France and on visiting Europe in general. The filmmaker interview is somewhat self-important, and, in light of the commentary, redundant.
Final Thoughts: It’s a very rare view of the Tour, especially because it’s from 2000. Lance was still a caretaker Tour winner, terrorism was limited to the West Bank and Northern Ireland, and Cyclingnews, just recently sold to some Australians, had never before sent a reporter to the Tour. Thus, the security is light, the roadsides are not packed with clueless Texans, and the glimpses into the heart of the race still fresh to American eyes. The shots of the Lotto team car reveal no team radio system (only the general race radio that everyone gets), and the “gear porn” sequences flash nothing racier than a little Record 10. It’s a great, intimate look at the greatest show on wheels, and an even better portrait of what the Tour de France will never look like again.
Also, -1 point somewhere in there for not punctuating its title correctly. It should read “The Tour, Baby!”.