The opening shot above sets the tone for the film. It starts a little further back and we see these bikers from a distance. The camera zooms in to the shot above and they start to look and move like wildlife caught unaware. The film keeps that documentary style throughout and, like in those opening shots, we often feel a little detached. It’s as if we are watching something that is a little out of place or normally hidden away. The subculture the film follows is known as the Rockers (familiar to fans of the film Quadrophenia).
After that opening shot, the Rockers go to pick up their friend who is being released from prison.
From there we are introduced to two more main characters who together compose three “generations” of Rockers. The first being Gerd (Gerd Kruskopf) who had a car and a girl before slipping into the Rocker lifestyle that ended him up in prison. The second is a young Rocker named Uli (Paul Lysa) and the third is his brother Mark (Hans-Jürgen Modschiedler), a teenager who lives with his older sister and is the next generation by circumstance more than choice.
Mark winds up spending time with both Uli and Gerd. Uli is like an indoctrination for Mark and his untimely demise shatters any illusions Mark may have had about his own direction in life. His time with Gerd is a look at the hardened reality of the Rocker lifestyle. It’s a view from somebody who has lived it for years. The riotous ending stops with a 400 Blows like freeze frame on Mark, except his future isn’t unknown, it’s been shown to us through Uli and Gerd.
This is a difficult film to come by if you don’t speak German and I was only recently able to obtain English subtitles. I am sure I am missing what people have described as the humorous slang. However, one line is both hilarious and ties together the state of the bike, car, and Rockers in director Klaus Lemke’s film.
Early in the film Uli breaks into and steals a Daimler. The Daimler is then stolen away from him by some well to do thugs. After Uli joins up with Mark and they get wasted, they find the Daimler. While Mark takes a leak on it, he asks Uli, “What is a Daimler?” Uli replies, “Daimler is Daimler. And this my Daimler.” It the symbol of a life that he and all the other Rockers can never have. The bikes, leather, and Rock N’ Roll may all be “cool”, but they have also become trappings of a dead-end lifestyle that makes them the wildlife seen in the opening shot.
Tough one to find unless you speak German, in which case it’s here, but I recommend it. Maybe watch it back to back with Quadrophenia.