Along with pastries, beer and beautiful people, Copenhagen is synonymous with cycling culture. With more bikes in the Danish capital than there are people, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the city’s CPH:DOX festival screened Daniel Dencik’s Moon Rider. The story of a young, ambitious Danes’ dream to become the best cyclist in the world, it’s an insightful and luscious-looking sport documentary, even if it’s”wheels in motion” simplicity feels tired by the time it reaches the finish line.
Boisterous, childish, and still living at home with mum, Rasmus Quaade is much like any young male. What sets this exceptional man apart from the rest is his determination to become a trophy winning, professional cyclist. He may lack the financial backing and technique of his contemporaries, but Rasmus’ tenacity, intelligence and bottomless heart make him not only a likely world-class cyclist, but a captivating documentary subject.
Director Dencik follows Rasmus around for over a year. We see him organically transform from a young, wide-eyed renegade to worthy competitor, going to various U23 cycling competitions across the world and trying to make a name for himself. It’s all leading up to Rasmus’ participation in the UCI Road World Championship, held conveniently in his residing Copenhagen. With thousands of spirited supporters out on the streets to cheer him on, it’s an incredible story of solidarity and the unifying qualities sport can have on a nation.
Even for its interesting subject, Dencik fails to express any sense of authorship on the documentary. I found it frustrating how laid back and observational it was, and was eager to see more provocation into Rasmus’ backstory and the intentions behind his
tempestuous practice ethic.
Never mind, Moon Rider is a pleasantly stylised account on a simple competitive subject. At it’s best, the charming grit of Super 8 stock matches Erik Enocksson’s sublime, Vangelis-like analogue electronics score.
Moon Rider is an uplifting and evocative documentary, even at single speed.
Listen to more of Erik Enocksson’s superb drone/ambient/neoclassical music here.