MovieChat Forums > Sombre (1998) Discussion > What was the Tour de France connnection?

What was the Tour de France connnection?

I'm not sure how the bike race connected to the movie. Anyone?


The director, Philippe Grandrieux, made a short film several years before Sombre about Gert-Jan Theunisse who was apparently some famous bicycle racer who competed in the Tour de France Perhaps the director has an interest in bicycle racing, or it was a nod to his earlier short. There could be some deep symbolic meaning I'm too dumb to understand too though...


First of all i just saw the film a few hours ago.

The first thing that came into my mind was that the film showed his own "Tour de France". It seems he is driving through France, all the diffrent Landscapes seem to give a clue to that.

May i am totally wrong there. But at some point watching it i felt that way...


There's something relentlessly mechanical about cycling. A continuous movement, driven forward. The mind of Jean seems to work in a similar mindless drive.

Chaos reigns


Obviously you can link it with many different elements of the film but I like to see it as a commentary on spectatorship. You just need to put it beside the openning images of the puppet show. That is Grandrieux' cinema itself, a puppet show. The man considers people in his films not characters but figures (his words). And the excitement of the openning is replaced with silence and gaze by the end. What is the purpose of cinema if not raising awareness?

Also, something from Nicole Brenez' interview with Grandrieux:

NB: We really only grasp at that moment the extent to which La Vie nouvelle is a political film – although, with the opening images of the people of Sarajevo, it’s there from the beginning. In Sombre, we only realised it at the very end, with those long travelling shots on the crowd at the Tour de France. A political film on the material, not sociological state of the world …

PG: … on what links us very intimately to chaos, to disaster. Which takes us to the question of what it is to be human, this constant menace, a pressure so great that it envelops us.


interesting answers. I just thought the puppeteer follows the Tour circus because there will be lots of spectators gathered at the cities the Tour the France stage starts (and ends)

The same goes for the prostitutes as well.

I'm sure there's business to be done...


Something else that's worthy of mention - the puppeteer show with the kids in the beginning immediately calls to mind the short documentary "Ten Minutes Older" - I wonder if that was a direct influence.

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