1974 doc on cyclist Ole Ritter's attempts to break Eddie Merckx's world hour records
Curated by The Sadnesses
Total Runtime: 0:42:46
In continuation of the time trial sequence from Stars and Watercarriers, The Impossible Hour is a concentrated study of Ole Ritter's attempt in Mexico City in 1974 to set a new record for the hour - described in the film as "the noblest, most difficult record that can be set on a bicycle". A brief retrospective in black and white sets the historical framework, with shots of Ritter and Eddy Merckx' successful record attempts in 1968 and 1972 respectively, and a few words about former record holders such as Fausto Coppi. From then on the film is in colour and with one minor exception (a training scene from a motor race track) it takes place in the relatively colourless setting of a cycle track. The film follows Ritter's three record attempts chronologically, which, accompanied by a Mexican marching band on the bandstand, all fail. There are several interview situations in hand-held reportage style in which Ritter is surrounded by a group of reporters and gives his account of the attempts, plus other shots from the inner circle of the cycle track. When Ritter is riding he is captured from a motorcycle moving round the track or we follow him (during the record attempts) in long pans all the way round the track. The only notable visual device is the slow motion used to accentuate Ritter's style in a couple of places, accompanied by a piano theme, with Leth's words on the soundtrack: "The functional mastery of power is an aesthetic experience". Throughout the film Leth talks soberly and informatively about cycling technique, the advantages of the thin air in Mexico City, Ritter's gradual acquisition of his average speed and rhythm, the progress of the record attempts, etc.