Breaking Away (1979, USA)

A few days ago I wrote about a sports (surf) movie that was mostly about friendship. By pure chance I am doing the same again as I’ve just seen Breaking Away, a bicycle movie where the limits and nature of friendship is a major theme. The movie is about four boys in a small university town in Indiana. But they are local boys, who do not attend the university of the town they grew up in and consider their own. As opposed to the college students who come and go.

One of the boys is a fanatic bicyclist, who gets engulfed by Italian culture to the extent that he ends up pretending to be Italian, when he meets a girl from the despised school. In his pursuit of her he breaks away from his buddies and opens up to new possibilities. While earlier he and his friends were in the closed mindset of keeping to them and didn’t see beyond their possible limited future, after our hero starts dating a girl outside his regular circles, he realizes that life can offer more, than being a cutter, like his father was. It is one of the best coming of age movie, because it doesn’t over romanticize the process and shows how big decisions are made with the help of incremental nudges.

I must have seen the movie when I was a young teenager. There were three scenes, that I recognized as images stored in the depth of my mind and there is no way I could have come with the identical imagery. These were stored from the movie. One of them is the lingering out the old quarry that turned into a summer swimming pool for the boys. The scene that haunted me was the fear that one of the boys got stuck into an old refrigerator under water. He wasn’t, but I didn’t remember that part.

I also remembered how the real Italian bicyclist, whom our hero exalted, threw a stick between his bike’s spokes that made him fall to the ditch, injure himself and ruin his bike. This was a recurring fear of mine as well, although I never competed in bike races. Yet another fear that got buried into the depth of my subconscious that came from the visuals of being one’s feet taped to the bicycle pedals, so he wouldn’t lose touch. Being forced to keep going on and on seems cruel. Yet again I didn’t remember correctly, this action was voluntary, the boy wanted to increase his chances of winning the game this way.

It was great to see this movie and placing these old vague memories into their proper context.


This is a top 1000 movie.

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