Tour De Force

Tour De Force


Reviewed by: David Stanners

Georges Christen is hard all right. For no particular reason he likes to bend iron bars, pull 95-ton boats with his teeth and shift cars with his throat attached to a spear.

One of the all time great strong men, the "avuncular" powerhouse from Luxembourg holds 23 Guinness records for strong man events. Not content with this, he travels to Russia, which for him represents the Mecca of all things strong.

Getting to know documentary maker Antoine Prum, Georges makes his strong man debut in Moscow on the city's 856th anniversary, entertaining the locals by bending bars and the like, while the camera randomly cuts to the local women to ask them what they find attractive in men. Doing everything to reinforce Russian stereotypes, they all love strong men, in character and build - forget New Age.

Georges then heads to the museum, proclaiming his love of the country ("Russia is a can-do kind of place; forward looking and dynamic"), yet still retaining enough of the old Soviet ways to give it great character and strength.

One day, whether by chance or not, Georges decides to pull a barge full of people with his teeth. We are told he has trained his teeth every day for years. How reassuring for the weaklings in the world! Anyway, to the amazement of the surrounding female news anchors, the big man succeeds in his task and bags another Guinness record while he's at it.

Other credible feats while on tour include making an orthodox wedding slightly less orthodox by lifting the bride, chair in mouth, and swinging her round and round, as you do. Better than a dull wedding speech, at least.

There is very little to this documentary. The story of a pair of bulging biceps, randomly edited without much purpose, could easily have descended into self-important nonsense. It doesn't. Writer/director Prum even pokes fun at his own artistic intentions, humorously forgiving the audience if they suspect him of being some kind of homosexual sycophant, obsessed with bulky men in tight vests.

In the end, the message is simple: Georges is an uncomplicated man who just likes breaking records. Never really providing much insight into his life, he says that when he was young he wasn't strong, and so wanted to become strong, "very strong."

Lacking both gravitas and focus, Tour de Force is pretty poor. But for the sheer low-key modesty of its director and star, as well as some of the strong man stunts, it scrapes a pass.

Reviewed on: 24 Aug 2005
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A strong man heads for Russia to build on his 23 Guinness Book of Records titles.

Director: Antoine Prum, Boris Kremer

Writer: Antoine Prum, Boris Kremer

Starring: Georges Christen

Year: 2004

Runtime: 78 minutes

Country: Luxembourg


EIFF 2005

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