Cinema - Overcoming

In 2004 former professional cyclist Bjarne Riis set up a new team – CSC - to challenge the established franchises and attempt to win the Tour de France. Remarkably, he granted Danish film-maker Tomas Gislason complete fly-on-the-wall access to the team as they prepared for and rode in the world’s greatest bicycle race. Overcoming is the remarkable result: a feature-length documentary which gives you a backie over the 3,429 km race as the competitors push their bodies to the limit sprinting against the clock and climbing over leg-sapping mountains to try and achieve the seemingly impossible – to help their top man, Italian Ivan Basso, to beat the seemingly invincible American Lance Armstrong.

Even more remarkably, Gislason does his best in the first half hour of the movie to make a complete cock-up of this privileged access. He uses every hands-on filmic trick in the book – slow motion, emotive music, freeze-frames, screens within screens, chronological shifts – in order to try to add extra drama where none is needed. The main problem about making movies about sport is that sport is in itself drama: it rarely needs embellishment. You wish that Gislason would just let things be and let the story unfold more naturally. Luckily the material is strong enough to overwhelm his over-zealous editing technique, and once the race starts unfolding you can’t take your eyes off the road. DL

Tour de force: get a backie on CSC’s attempt to win
cycling’s biggest race
All Saints Centre, Lewes
When? 8pm
How Much? £3

Watch (Danish language) trailer here: click here