Jørgen Leth interviewed by David Millar
There were four reasons for this interview:
- Finlay Pretsell's film, "TIME TRIAL", has recently been released and Jørgen Leth's "A Sunday in Hell" had been an inspiration for Finlay and me.
- This Sunday sees the Tour de France race to Roubaix across cobbles.
- I share the same catering facilities in the Tour de France media zone as Jørgen and have meant to interview him for a while as I find him fascinating and so the above two happenings gave me the excuse I needed.
- AG2R La Mondiale will be racing Factor CHPT3 ONEMORELAP bikes to Roubaix, and we want to share with people all our stories around the race.
If you haven't seen "A Sunday in Hell" then you must. When I first started racing bikes in the early 1990's I searched out every magazine, book, film that existed about the sport. Unlike now there were limited pickings, my search stopped bearing fruit not long after it began, but in that search I came across "Stars and Watercarriers" and "A Sunday in Hell", two films from the 1970's by a Danish director that had never been bettered and were held by everyone I spoke to as being the best films on professional cycling. Sure enough, after tracking down VHS copies and watching for myself the truth was undeniable. Nothing has bettered them in the 42 years since A Sunday in Hell was made. With our film, "TIME TRIAL", Finlay Pretsell and I simply hoped that at best it would be favourably compared to A Sunday in Hell.
This was made more possible by the fact that Jørgen Leth became a soundboard for Finlay and offered him advice and shared his experiences during the long process of making TIME TRIAL.
At the premier of TIME TRIAL, in Amsterdam in November 2017, I sat down near the front of the massive theatre where my wife and me had our seats blocked out. A few minutes before the lights dimmed somebody sat down next to me, it was Jørgen, he squeezed my hand and smiled, "You were very brave to let Finlay do this, David. It's a wonderful film." And so we sat, me 40, the same age Jørgen had been at the premier of A Sunday in Hell, 40 years before.
Here's our chat, I hope you enjoy it.