Das Fahrrad

The Bicycle
Susanne is a single mother. As an unskilled labourer, she is on the lower end of the professional and social hierarchy, even in theoretically egalitarian East Germany. Her friends and acquaintances are all from the margins of society. She finds her job as a punch press operator burdensome and quits. As her money starts to dwindle, she sees a way out. Urged on by a friend, she reports her bicycle stolen and collects the insurance. But just as she seems to be doing better and enjoying a relationship with ambitious engineer Thomas, her fraud is discovered and she is threatened with prosecution … Evelyn Schmidt portrays her protagonist’s emotional crisis with empathy and understanding. With a keen eye for the milieu, her film exposes the class divide in East German society, which reaches all the way down to romantic relationships. A story of emancipation, the narrative ellipses and concise storytelling make it feel very modern, even today. Dismissed by critics and the studio heads as “confusing” and “flawed”, The Bicycle offers up a realistic depiction of East Germany – its hardened social mores as well as its alternative breathing spaces – without idealising it.
by Evelyn Schmidt
with Heidemarie Schneider, Roman Kaminski, Anke Friedrich, Gertrud Brendler, Birgit Edenharter, Heidrun Bartholomäus, Gisela Bestehorn, Johanna Clas, Detlef Plath, Andrej Hoffmann
German Democratic Republic 1982 German 90’ Colour Rating R12


  • Heidemarie Schneider
  • Roman Kaminski
  • Anke Friedrich
  • Gertrud Brendler
  • Birgit Edenharter
  • Heidrun Bartholomäus
  • Gisela Bestehorn
  • Johanna Clas
  • Detlef Plath
  • Andrej Hoffmann


Written and Directed by Evelyn Schmidt based on a scenario by Ernst Wenig
Cinematography Roland Dressel
Editing Sabine Schmager
Music Peter Rabenalt
Sound Gerhard Baumgarten, Brigitte Pradel
Production Design Marlene Willmann
Costumes Ursula Strumpf

Additional information

DCP: DEFA-Filmverleih in der Deutschen Kinemathek, Berlin

Evelyn Schmidt


Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019