Breaking Away

by Ian Cleverly

As Matt Seaton began in his essay from issue four of Rouleur, everyone has their favourite scene from Breaking Away – unless you haven’t seen it, of course, in which case you are missing out.

This is mine, although excuse me if the precise details are sketchy. It’s been a few years since the last viewing and I am prone to exaggeration in the retelling of a story, but this is the gist of it.

Our Italo-obsessed young hero, Dave Stoller – although he prefers to be called Enrico Gimondi – enters the kitchen, greets his father, Raymond, seated at the dinner table awaiting his supper, with a kiss on the head and a “Ciao, papa!”

Papa – sorry, father – is not in the least amused with the boy’s affectations and chides his son accordingly, then asks Mrs Stoller what is for dinner. It is going to be pasta – again. What else would a Campagnolo devotee in training for a big race want on his plate? Former quarryman Raymond, however, most certainly does not want pasta. In fact, he wants nothing on his plate ending in “guini” or “ini” or anything remotely “Eye-talian” sounding.

“I want American food, dammit,” he rails. “I want French fries!”

It still makes me chuckle. And the whole film still brings a smile to my face: not because it is a cycling movie – it is first and foremost a coming-of-age story – but because it is a great film that just happens to feature bike racing, and is the only drama to successfully combine the two.

Nominated for five Academy Awards and winning best original screenplay in 1980, Breaking Away is the perfect example of the script-led films of the era, superseded by CGI effects and overpaid film stars. And there is bike racing – what more could you ask for?

Keep your eyes peeled for Team Garmin pro Christian Vande Velde’s dad, John, playing one of the pump-weilding Cinzano riders.

The DVD of Breaking Away is available here.


2 Responses to “Breaking Away”

  1. Kitty Fondue Says:

    Even before I loved cycling, I loved this film. There are so many great scenes, it’s hard to pick a favourite. The most affecting scene for me, however, was when Dave comes back, bruised and road-rashed, after the Italians did the dirty on him, and starts to cry on his father’s shoulder, after calling him ‘Dad’ not Papa – the tears of a boy who suddenly has to face up to the harsh realities of life – and the way his father comforts him.

  2. Grant Says:

    “everybody cheats, I just didn’t know”

    -Dave Stoller

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