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4.6 out of 5 stars92
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 23 May 2014
To head off any comments about how I saw this before the DVD release- this film was premiered a few weeks ago in a small number of cinemas and I was lucky enough to see it in Belfast just after the Giro team presentation at a showing followed by a Q&A with James Erskine and Matt Rendell. Why was Matt Rendell there? Well, this documentary was inspired by his brilliant, balanced and detailed "The Death of Marco Pantani" although due to the nature of film making there were only certain elements that could be included.
As for the actual documentary- it brings together many of the important people in Pantani's life to develop an picture of a complex and passionate individual. We live in a world shaped by media that prefers simplified binary oppositions- people are either for us or against us, good or bad- however this documentary challenges that simplistic dichotomy- it is too easy to condemn pro cyclists from that era for all being "bad people who cheated using drugs" but this work places everything in context. While not condoning what went on during a dark period for cycling, it forces viewers to ask themselves honestly what choices they would have made in the same position.
There is also a tendency among many to promote Pantani to the sainthood, such are the myths and narratives that were built around him, but again Erskine avoids this- the film doesn't judge Pantani, it simply offers opportunities to understand a very complex man who struggled a lot internally. It is to Erskine's credit that he cut through a lot of the protective bubble people close to Pantani erected to preserve his legend, and it humanises him all the more.
While offering an extra "chapeau" to Erskine on the Dario Fo inspired title, it is important to note that you do not have to be a cycling fan to find this an excellent piece of work-in fact it would be interesting to see the responses from those who are approaching Pantani with fresh eyes, not carrying the baggage of opinions from the past. And for those of us who have followed the sport for a long time- the archive footage of Bartali and Coppi, as well as Pantani himself as he surges away climbing on the drops is worth the price of the film alone as well as underlining just why Il Pirata inspired such fervent support.
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on 18 August 2014
This is a thoroughly solid, professional documentary and made with passion and expertise. Clearly well researched, it doesn't over sensationalise a tragic story. I particularly enjoyed the early archive and all the key moments were there from Pantanis career. Good contributions from many of the usual suspects, although I found it a bit odd that Matt Rendall was interviewed for a film based on his own book. I think a slightly more rigorous approach to the doping aspect of his career would have been appropriate, as well as a wider look at the doping culture that existed while he was racing. Although his desperately sad death is covered, it feels almost as a coda to the main film, as thought the filmmakers didn't quite have the confidence to give it more prominence and depth. Of course, new speculation that Pantani's death was not accidental is ironic indeed. I can certainly reccomend this documentary to all cyclists and to a wider audience who should be interested in a story of a brilliant, but ultimately fatally flawed talent.
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on 26 July 2014
Excellent documentary. What this really highlights is the damage done by the whole decades long doping scandal that rocked cycling. The film looks at how Pantani started as a youngster with a love of cycling and a gift for climbing mountains on the bike. It goes on to look at how somewhere along the way to winning a tour and Giro title in the same year he was charged with doping offences and from there spiralled into depression and drug use.

Its a great and well filmed documentary with lots of information I wasn't aware of. It takes a look at that era without focusing on Lance Armstrong (as so many others have).

Its very poignant as it uses members of his close friends and families - in particular his mother talks about how she always encouraged his love of cycling as she saw it as something healthy and social.....but she realised after that Marco was being pushed from a healthy love of sport and competition towards the sole quest of winning...and this unfortunately had to involve drugs in that era...

Well worth checking out and as good as the lance armstrong documentary (which was also excellent!)
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on 13 May 2014
Brilliant portrait of a young man who only ever strived to be the best and was naively exploited by the sometimes cruel business of cycling in which young men are apparently dispensable. The culture of doping is ugly and hopefully on the wain. A real insight into an interesting life
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I enjoyed this engaging documentary on Marco Pantani - whatever your opinions on the man himself and of drug use in cycling in general I think it's an interesting piece and creates good topics for debate (deliberately or otherwise).

The film has a wealth of relevant contributors - archive interviews with the man himself as well as recent input from his parents, friends, trainers, team bosses and other notables such as (Sir) Bradley Wiggins and Greg Lemond. It's a pretty sympathetic portrait of Pantani, covering his youth and earlier days as an amateur rider before following him through various Tour De France and Giro D'Italia campaigns. The sad conclusion to the story is of course covered also.

It's hard not to draw comparisons with another recent cycling doc - The Armstrong Lie - which takes a rather less sympathetic view towards its subject although it does cover similar ground, including interesting views on the doping epidemic and investigations from cyclings recent past. This is Pantani's film at heart though and the tone is more of sad regret of the circumstances in general and how it all played out. It doesn't offer any easy answers of course and what happened can be debated endlessly.

The film itself is well put together, including plenty of stirring footage from Pantani's glory days. Various highlights are used, often set to dramatic or sinister music to escalate the tension - it feels like a thriller at times. I'd say it's certainly worth a watch, even for those that don't have a great interest in the sport.
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on 9 May 2016
I have ordered but haven't watched the film yet but Amazon you need to rewrite your product description. Pantani wasn't the only one to win the Giro 'd' Italia and the Tour de France!! Bernard Hinault won the Giro 3 times and did it twice in the same year he won the Tour and in 1982 he also won 4 other Tours plus a string of Classics. 5 tour wins 3 Giro and 2 Vuelta that is the greatest ever rider. Pantani was probably the best ever mountain climber but not in Hinaults league i'm afraid!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 December 2014
This is an excellent documentary about the too-short career of Marco Pantani. It starts by showing his early years, and how he was such a promising cyclist, then the year when he won the Giro and the Tour de France. But the following year, he tested with a hematocrit over 50% - not actually testing positive for doping - and his career was essentially finished. Was it a plot against him, as he said? It was clearly that he was part of the industrial-doping complex that has been plaguing professional cycling for decades. He was weak, and he got caught, and that led to his death at age 34 from a drug overdose.

The film doesn't moralize, and probably could pay more attention to the organized doping culture that affected nearly every major pro cyclist for decades. But it does show how one man simply couldn't deal with the pressure. Pantani was a spectacular cyclist, but a lot of his strength came from drugs. It's a shame, and we need to see more films like this to help clean up a sport that deserves better.
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on 16 June 2014
A very good DVD that gives you an interesting perspective into the world of cycling in the late 90's and early 2000's
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on 17 June 2014
The subject matter was very well presented, informative and followed through from the beginning to the sad end with as much content to guide you through the sport of cycling, even if you knew nothing about Pantani. The photography and overall visual impact was wonderful. A thoughtful and poignant film.
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on 8 January 2015
A tragic loss. Marco enjoyed his first victory upon his red Vicini bike when only 14 years old. Very sad that Signor Pantani left us ALL after only twenty years. Upon any climb anywhere, this legend (RIP) was 'Short-changed' via the price-of-life. As I've stated....a tragic loss.

Ciao Marco.
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