The animated French film, Belleville Rendez-Vous, opens in the UK this week and is an all-action, no-dialogue, not-just-for-kids movie that is widely tipped to get an Oscar for best animation. It drips with references to bicycles and the Tour de France. Madison has teamed up with the film's UK distributor to offer a Ridgeback Genesis Day 03 as a comp prize linked to the movie's excellent website.

‘Twisted masterpiece’ centres on Tour de France

"I was beguiled from the first second," said The Guardian’s film critic, Peter Bradshaw.

"[Belleville Rendez-Vous] really is one of the most bracingly original things I have seen for a long time."

Bike-mad cartoonist John Stuart-Clark believes the film to be a classic in the making:

"Set in the 1950s, it is drawn with a keen eye for detail (penny farthing wall paper in the little boy’s bedroom and every spoke on the bicycles turn!) yet has no discernable dialogue. Virtually the whole thing is played out in mime but with a stunning sound score underlying a minimalist quest plot which will delight [folk] from 8 to 80."

Over on, reviewer Rich Cline said: "this is an involving, exciting, hilarious film that we want to see again immediately after it ends. Fantastic."

The movie is 1 hour 18 mins of originality from French animator Sylvain Chomet, say the reviewers.

Based on the life of bicycle-loving small boy who grows up to be a Tour de France contender, Belleville Rendez-Vous is both cruel and touching at the same time. How cruel? Mafia-types kidnap the Tour de France hero and make him pedal in front of a film projection of an endless road.

The bike sequences are said to be the best animations of bicycles ever.

"Showing the Tour de France, you can’t use conjuring tricks to get round the problems which arise when bicycles are animated: you have to have many bikes," said Chomet.

"Roadside crowds were animated using traditional techniques, but I had to show the pack. At first, we thought we’d use 3D imagery for the bicycles alone but then we decided to model the cyclists as well and show them in wide-shot. They are tiny in the frame and fit perfectly into the rest of the animation. That’s something we’re very proud of. You can’t turn something like a bicycle into something emotional and animating the spokes is an absolute nightmare."

Film clips can be seen at…/A1157348 or on the offical website.

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