Prix du Jury at Festival des Films du Monde de Montréal
Festival des Films du Monde de Montréal
Hof International Film Festival
“The Bicycle“ is Arne Körner’s first motion picture about a young couple, Paris and a bicycle. Opening night in Hamburg is at Metropolis on 1st. May 2016 BREMEN taz | No, this is not a road or cycling film. In a few days when showing his film at the 4th Nuremberg Bicycle Film Festival there could easily be jeers from bicycle film enthusiasts. This could be even so the film promises a long cinematic bicycle tour: Following a relationship that broke up in Paris young Mark from Hamburg rides the bike once again, a present from his ex girlfriend Antonia, from one metropolis to the other. Originally this trip should have been at centre stage in the film. Actually co-author and main actor Akin Sipal got a bike from a former girl friend some years ago. He really hates cycling. Therefore for him this symbolises all that went wrong in his relationship. And this is the bicycle he rides in the film. But then the film turned out completely different. The slow failure of the relationship that was planned as a story in the back ground migrated more and more into the foreground. There are film sequences from the ride as when Akin Sipal passes by a field in northern Germany, at border crossings devoid of people or in a French provincial town. One never gets the impression that he really worked hard along the long ride. Instead he rides aimlessly around with a backpack that seems to be too small even for rain clothes. His dislike of riding a bicycle becomes quite obvious. He never has a flat tire and nothing interesting happens during the ride. The ride is just a gesture and Arne Körner was that clever to recognise it and limit the bicycle to a minimum. However there is an interlude when Sipal rides across the screen with rhythmically arranged bicycle sounds. The by far longest part of the film consists of two young people arguing in Paris. At this level “The Bicycle“ can convince. Körner works in a very free form reminding of the films of Nouvelle Vague. And this even so Körner claims to have seen only one film from Eric Rohmer but rather being inspired by films from Roland Klick and his professor Wim Wenders at Hamburger Hochschule für Bildende Künste (Art Academy Hamburg). The Canadian actress Carly May Borgstrom and Akin Sipal – himself being producer and author and working for the first time as actor – played without pre determined dialogs and improvised their scenes. There is no worst cliché then a love story in Paris. Here too Körner avoids the expectations by abstaining from any romanticisation and showing only the final act of the relationship. In romantic films it is often claimed that the chemistry between the actors ensures that the story however unbelievable or foreseeable it is still makes it touching. In “The Bicycle“ one is drawn more and more into the relationship because the two so obviously don’t match. Körner has not filmed one conventional love scene; they hardly touch each other and seem to be rather annoyed by each other. This slow dying of their love is something most will recall from their youth. He succeeds to convey this attitude to life with a Northern German dry wit. Obviously Körner and Sipal recount autobiographically while Carly May Borgstrom acts lively and multilayered. Her playing ensures that her character does not become a screen for the two young men. In 2013 Körner has spent as an exchange student half a year in Paris. There from he new Paris well enough to avoid the known tourist views. He filmed without a filming permission something he could not have afforded as an independent producer. The film ends with the burning of the bicycle on the banks of River Seine. Körner comments that these shots are very likely not anymore possible due to the terrorist attacks in Paris. In this sense his film reminds of the lost freedom and liberality of the city. Exceptional is that he filmed with real film material which is almost an anachronism. Actually the camera is part of the story as Mark – an amateur filmier – took his old Bolex along to Paris. They filmed each other and theses takes are integrated in the film. This makes it instantaneous and playfully. Until now Arne Körner made short films only. “The Bicycle“ is his “first film with people”. The film is self financed something he could afford as he is quite busy as film editor. Last year his film premiered at the film festival in Montreal. He won a price for the best student film. Thereafter he was invited to the festival at Hof, Germany. After this promising start the marketing stopped. Distributors showed interest in the film. But none signed a contract and Körner estimates that about 400 people have seen the film. He spent 3 years making it.
Wilfried Hippen – taz
Going in Hamburg.-St. Pauli to the movies, I encounter this guy who starts hitting the bird in the first row who has blocked all good seats for her friends who are not even there yet. I get to sit next to the guy who turns out to be a young producer. A few days later I get my private screening and I am really excited: As casually brusque as Arne Körner is is his film. Seldom the end of a love story is shown as laconically sentimental as in “The Bicycle“. The start: Mark, a young man, pedals with his bicycle from Hamburg to Paris to meet Antonia from Canada during the summer. He recalls mostly odd episodes… Comments: We the observers neither get to see Nouvelle Vague nor Hollywood, just a tiny Independent film from Germany. The city of love is as pretty as always but especially a stereotype. What Mark and Antonia once found interesting off each other is no more since some time; from now on its separation only. Finally it is a sad film but without any tears. Playfully, very live and absolutely fresh scenes are linked by producer and author Arne Körner and it shows again and again the hidden wit. Körner is without any doubt from Northern Germany. By setting the tone on maximal he stems against all usual romantic narrative templates. Paris is a noisy and glaring city; here fondness seems misplaced. In fact one wants Mark and Antonia to be like their cinema examples Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in “Breathless“ or Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in “Before Sunset“. But no, this is the next millennium and every one can be full of faults as much as they want. Mark and Antonia communicate in English; he even speaks a view words in French and she knows a some German words. But there is no common language. The misunderstandings and disappointments accumulate until nothing works any longer. This is a great pity but at the same time very amusing. Being more recalcitrant and doing things wrong as Mark does is hardly possible. Never the less the young whippersnapper has no feeling for what he is doing wrong. “The Bicycle” is not the typical Date Movie but if so she has as much fun as he has. PS: I could talk endlessly about the wonderful artists; especially about the great Akin Sipal with his original Hamburg gob, about unmasking talks („I like women that don’t make any stress.“) or the unobtrusive poetry of the film (the sound of the bicycle spokes!). Everyone should get his own idea of the film. “The Bicycle“ is THE German Anti-Romance – so true, it is hurting but at the same time so funny thereby not sliding into cynicisms. “The Bicycle“ must be shown at the movies immediately!
Peter Clasen – Splatting Image
Mark (Akin Sipal) and Antonia (Carly May Borgstrom) have a long distance relationship between Germany and Canada. To revitalise their relationship they meet for a vacation in Paris. Once Antonia presents a bicycle to Mark it turns out to be the beginning of a drama and a real odyssey between Hamburg and Paris. The HFBK graduate thesis film directed by Arne Körner shows his passion for films as well as his will and talent to leave the trotted paths of cinematographic story telling. We have to be curious about the further evolution of this very talented director.
D. 82Min, o.A. Metropolis 1st May, 13:45, Arne Körner personally presents his film.
Eckhard Haschen – Hamburger Morgenpost
A long-distance relationship that should find it’s happiness in Paris. Two people in love but who hardly know each other. This is the initial situation in „The Bicycle“. This is little kown to the audience when seeing this film the first time. Arne Körner does not do us the favour to explain what the story is all about. Instead he shows a road movie in progress; two people lonely while being together are trying to make the best out of their shared time. And are gloriously failing. „The Bicycle“ is a bit like „Before Sunrise“ but without portentous dialogs. A travel documentation without defined goal. After 45 minutes a discussion, after an hour and a quarter a dispute and at the end a burning bicycle. This must be enough to understand the dynamic of a terrifically failing relationship. „The Bicycle“ is a marvelous antidote to all the target oriented love stories that cinemas like to show. Nothing will be explained but a lot will be understood and a happy end is not an option. This way you don’t make block busters but good films. For people with endurance who have learned something at the end without having been made aware of with raised index finger.
A young woman and a young man in Paris in love, but still searching – isn’t this a subject well worn out? Yes, this is surely true, but not in cinemas! A good director takes overused locations and subjects to show new aspects. Just like Arne Körner. He shows a cinema love story differently. His intentions are most visible when one acoustically can’t understand the dialog between his main characters (a car passes by very noisily) or both are quiet for minutes during a dispute. Neither the noise nor the silence disturbs Körner’s appeals to the eyes. Even tiniest gestures by the artists show something at all times, convert the screen into a landscape full of passions, contradictions, questions, doubts. When the couple wanders through Paris searching for orientation nothing comes up as being staged. Instead it becomes obvious that during the shooting the artists did not know exactly what to expect. This resulted in situations no script can plan. Well mounted these situations generate a particular especially not stagy intensity. »The Bicycle« is a film with room for spontaneity like street theatre with a direct link to the reality of Paris. »There is the Paris in France, the Paris from Paramount, from MGM and from Columbia, I prefer the MGM version«; a sentence by director Billy Wilder about the fascination of artificial cinema worlds. However in the sixties there was change in the air, there was the Paris of Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer and Jean-Luc Godard. When Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo in »Breathless« not in sterile studios but instead in real Paris streets starred this became an eye opener for the public. All of a sudden the conventional film looked old and bland. »The Bicycle« contains some reverberations of this era. Here too the production does not constantly tell the viewer what to think, but instead to look. Welcome in Arne Körner’s Paris.
This film is a great experience. From the beginning you will be drawn into two worlds, the colourful one in Paris and parallel into the clinically clean and cold world of the bicycle tour from Hamburg to Paris. In an inviting way your reception will be activated. The spectator opens up and makes up his own mind of what he is seeing. This means he becomes a co-worker of the film for the success of the projection. The nice sentence “A film only materializes when shown in the cinema“ is really fitting. When describing this film as a road movie it will become obvious when watching that this is a ride into once inside; a recollection of the lively and fun loving Paris which becomes for the introverted hero (Akin Sipal) more and more an excessive demand and burden, 2 in hind side even a trauma. He cannot open up despite the constant attempts by his extroverted girlfriend (Carly May Borgstrom) trying to pull him out of his isolation. The observer who cannot do any other but to open up for the film is in a better position. It is exciting throughout the film to witness – even to share the excitement – how during summer in the teeming streets of Paris the love story of the protagonists may end; sometimes full of hope, sometimes full of bad feelings. The film plays out in full length in the street. By no means is it a German film affair retreating into a studio. Also no dramaturgically safe sentences are spoken but with the street noise the mouth is opened. No one will get the idea that “The Bicycle” is a documentary, that’s what I claim. Both artists are far too present. We get too near. We, the viewers stay with them. As a conclusion, Arne Körner, producer and screenwriter has made with his first motion picture a novel cinema experience, one that addresses heart and soul.