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Short Film: Watch an Early Racing Doc from George Lucas and Its Canadian Cycling Inspiration

60 Cycles

Why Watch? Let’s start with Jean-Claude Labrecque, who turns 75 today. The Québécois director and cinematographer is one of the National Film Board of Canada’s most prolific documentarians, and 60 Cycles is perhaps his most successful work, winner of a slew of festival awards and a BAFTA nominee. In the summer of 1965 he followed a bike race in Québec, 2400 kilometers long. Filmed on a 1000 mm lens borrowed from NASA, 60 Cycles presents the scope of such an enormous race unlike anything that came before. It has the humor of Louis Malle’s Tour de France film, 1962’s Vive le Tour, and an extra layer of 1960s cool. It’s a hidden gem of sports cinema.

Inspired by Labrecque’s work, then-student filmmaker George Lucas decided to make a short documentary about driver Pete Brock trying to qualify for a competition with a Lotus 23 race car. The title, 1:42.08, is Brock’s lap time in the trial. Shooting on 16mm and borrowing a friend’s plane, Lucas was able to capture the essence of automotive speed from above. For a young aspiring director still at USC, it’s quite the accomplishment.

What Will It Cost? 1:42.08 A Man and His Car is just over 7 minutes, 60 Cycles is just over 16.

60 Cycles

1:42.08

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Daniel Walber is a freelance critic living in Brooklyn. He holds a MA in cinema studies from New York University, loves any movie under 80 minutes, and is gay for Bette Davis.

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