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Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist film for UK release

Cycling News
February 18, 09:07,
February 18, 09:13
First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Marco Pantani in action at the 2002 Giro d'Italia

Marco Pantani in action at the 2002 Giro d'Italia

  • Marco Pantani in action at the 2002 Giro d'Italia
  • A pensive Marco Pantani
  • Marco Pantani on the attack ahead of maglia rosa Gilberto Simoni during stage 19 of the 2003 Giro d'Italia
  • Marco Pantani in action during the 2002 Giro d'Italia

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Video trailer from the official film

A feature documentary on Marco Pantani, the enigmatic Italian cyclist who died of a cocaine overdose on February 14, 2004, will be released in UK cinemas in late April.

Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist charts the extraordinary rise of the gifted climber who won the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in 1998, before being plagued by allegations of doping and succumbing to depression. In 1999, he was thrown off the Giro for irregular blood values linked to EPO use. He died in a hotel room in Rimini, 10 years ago and a day after his 34th birthday.

The film – which premiered in Italy last week – mixes archive race footage, reconstructions and interviews with riders including Bradley Wiggins, Greg LeMond and Evgeni Berzin.

The film is written, directed and co-produced by James Erskine. Victoria Gregory, whose credits include the BAFTA Award-winning film, Senna, a biopic about the charismatic Brazilian F1 driver and the Oscar winning Man on Wire.

For more information, visit Pantani Film.

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Trafficrider 5 months ago
I am sure this will be a riveting documentary/commentary on Pantani and the state of the sport which defined his legacy. It's an interesting choice of title, obviously borrowed from the 1970s Italian play "Accidental Death of an Anarchist" by Dario Fo, which described a different theatre of corruption and trumped-up charges, brought upon a targeted individual. Although Pantani's story has been defined as one of persecution, it is unfortunately not quite so simple, as certain things he indeed brought upon himself, decisions which remain his personal tragedy. Nor should exceptionalism apply to the greater justice of putting an end to the doping culture in sports. Yet, Pantani remains a compelling figure, and his achievements against a field of dopers, are still amazing and exceptional. I quite admired his style and character despite all of which was so wrong. He had panache, an indomitable drive, and enormous courage, living so large in his all too brief life. But so tragically grounded in an unsustainable sporting culture dependent upon unethical attitudes to medication. Poor Marco, fell back to earth so hard. In the Accidental Death of an Anarchist, the character so described was a political martyr, but the question was twisted into pretzel logic, whether he was pushed or if he jumped. It's a more difficult question to answer on Pantani's behalf, but there are surely compelling arguments in support of both explanations in his case. He deserved a better fate.
Smoker Ace 5 months ago
Well said.
TShame 5 months ago
How was it an accident? I think the title is deceptive and designed to create controversy.
Trafficrider 5 months ago
"Accident" is from Dario Fo's play, where the police claim that the eponymous anarchist fell "accidentally" as they could not establish grounds for suicide, and would certainly not admit that they drove him to it. Yes I agree that borowing this title is a very loaded allusion in Pantani's case, although the verdict of his overdose was basically death by misadventure. The peril of unknown potency in the illegal drugs trade could well be a factor, and the false sense of invincibility which may accompany certain addictive personalities may be another. Remember, with Pantani, we are discussing more than just sports-related doping. It is a shame that we must consider the darker aspects of his psychology, because I believe that he had better, more positive qualities as well. I think we will forever be conflicted by his story, which can never be boiled down to a simple narrative.
TheFred 5 months ago
Beautifully written and interesting pieces. You seem to be a pro. Of course, the swirling array of factors psychological and otherwise are many and subjective, but his demise was very simple; he chose to risk his life with body altering drugs and continued to do so until the certain conclusion arrived. It is sad, but simple.
randolph 3 months ago
so certain not true the only people who say so certain are them tat never took a chance drugs or otherwise randolph patrick mcmurphy tried to lift the the shower so certain he wouldnt succeed well he tried and the indian succeeded wonder if ur so certain about that who wants a certain life anyway keep it to urself certainly
Larry T. atCycleItalia 5 months ago
Yours was the best comment I've EVER read on this forum. Perhaps it can be an inspiration and put an end to the constant "you suck" "NO, you suck" drivel so common here?
Trafficrider 5 months ago
Thanks though it's just a gloss on an astute choice for a film title. The crazy (and dicey) world of 1970s Italian anarchism which I had heard a fair bit of through a mutual acquaintance of Mr. Fo back in the day, would certainly have its present day protagonists and antagonists in any online forum. Desperadoes of a different sort from professional cycling, for sure. There was a pretty rowdy populist revolt in Northern Italy and similarly a lot of guilt by association, investigations, and a lot of people who now lead completely different lives. But yes, also some unreasonable persecution, and that was Dario Fo's point. How this will compare to the film about Pantani, I wonder. You would imagine his own sense of being in detention from his passion to compete. Perhaps the sense that he felt himself above the Law and could be considered an anarchist, although truly, he was il Pirata. Was he an outlaw, although his life was an open spectacle? Or did he just not handle celebrity well. He certainly did become a political football in cycling though no getting around that. A lot of grey areas in terms of UCI determinations, there was a Star Chamber aspect of their decision-making under Verbruggen and MacQuaid, and due process was on a long leash. Still I hesitate to make Pantani a martyr. He failed the tests and that must always be remembered as a mug's game. There again bombing public buildings and getting caught with a trunkful of guns or whatever, around Milan in the 70s, was also a mug's game. But how's that for a flame war?!
PCM Geek 5 months ago
You came up with a very well written comment Trafficrider and that in itself is a rare occurrence here in the comment sections on CN. Most comments consist of personal attacks on people when a comment is perceived to be in difference to what some people believe. Because some people don't agree with a comment or they don't like it they then resort to being combative while spewing out personal attacks. So congratulations on a well thought out and well written comment. This is one of only a few comments that I actually enjoyed reading. Maybe CN could make a place for you on their writers staff. I look forward to reading more from you. Well done. :-)
randolph 3 months ago
yeah peace and love and rational but sometimes apainting is made of contrasting colours however harsh the contrast enhances the other
DAVE P 5 months ago
Scarface is a more comparible parallel.
TheFred 5 months ago
Regardless of thumbs down, Dave P is right; both started dabbling with dangerous drugs then escalated until it cost them the ultimate price.
randolph 3 months ago
we dont need to glorify anyone, but ours is not to judge either,we are spectators of the whole drama why judge what u love kinda self defeating
richcyclist 5 months ago
A month and a day after his birthday actually.
Karl Von Drais 5 months ago
It's going to be tough to enjoy this movie with a preconceived bias about the subject of the movie. I'll try and be open, but I hope they don't play him off as a victim in a tough world too much. A lot of his choices in life were his own and I hope that too comes across in this film.
bianchi1885 5 months ago
You just reminded me of the scene when Tony says, "Me, I don't have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say goodnight to the bad guy!"
rhubroma 5 months ago
Pantani was a star who thought, erroneously, that his fame made him an untouchable, not realizing, however, that beyond Italy within the greater interests of the sport, there were powers that made him expendable. Having lost his protection, the vultures hovered over the carcass. Dario Fo's celebrated play deals with the fate of Italian anarchist, Giusppe Pinelli, who fell - or was thrown - to his death from the fourth floor window of a Milan police station in 1969. He was accused of bombing a bank (the Piazza Fontana bombing) but was cleared of the charge. Pinelli's story was meant to shift the direction of the Piazza Fontana bombing away from an economic conspiracy that arrived at the highest levels of the CIA backed Christian Democratic party, toward the vilification of a leftist terrorist attack against the capitalist regime. In this Pinelli became the scapegoat and sacrificial lamb, because an easy identification with the left's radical movement, according to the non-official account. In short, the allusion is clear: a problematic anti-system protagonist is brought under the wrath of those, who, dealing with a time-bomb, rather choose to make it detonate on he who is expendable, rather than on the entire system they fought to uphold. The system then went on to open a huge umbrella for Armstrong. .
Edward Winkler 5 months ago
It is sad that many cannot understand the power of addiction. It is a disease, and his death is as tragic as if he had died from any other disease. I have no idea how Mr. Pantani came to the place in his life that he used drugs of some kind for the first time. There are many who use and never become addicted, there are many that use once and are hooked for life. Phillip Seymore Hoffman’s recent death is tragic and should be a reminder that one can never completely recover from addiction. He was clean for many years only to relapse and overdose. Many professional cyclist of Pantani’s time used various drugs for whatever reason. His death is simply a tragedy of that very first use and that random addiction that claims many but let’s others walk away.
TheFred 5 months ago
This disease is the only one on earth which is instantly and forever cured on a beautiful, exotic, and deserted island. No other disease has this luxury.
randolph 3 months ago
At last someone hits the truth and the human side of it, nice to know there are some out there
azureskies 5 months ago
Having lost many to drugs it is hard to become excited about an addict. God bless his soul, I am sure it will be an excellent film, I am so sorry for his relitaves.
erader 5 months ago
accidental my eye
randolph 3 months ago
I ride Theobalds road to Leyton in about 13 mins smoke 12.5 grams tobacco 4 to 5 cans of k cider after riding all week 8 hours a day would EPO give me more energy so i can take my girlfriend out dancing at the weekend,I take well man but sometimes feel unwell man