Berlinale: Programme

Film File


Das Fahrrad

The Bicycle

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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.

Evelyn Schmidt

German Democratic Republic 1982


90’ · Colour · 2K DCP

Digitally restored version 2018

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
Roland Dressel
Sabine Schmager
Peter Rabenalt
Gerhard Baumgarten, Brigitte Pradel
Production Design
Marlene Willmann
Ursula Strumpf

DCP: DEFA-Filmverleih in der Deutschen Kinemathek, Berlin