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Bicycle (2014) Online

Bicycle (2014) Online
Original Title :
Genre :
Movie / Documentary / Biography / History / Sport
Year :
Directror :
Michael B. Clifford
Writer :
Michael B. Clifford
Budget :
Type :
Time :
1h 27min
Rating :
Bicycle (2014) Online

'Bicycle' is a 90 minute documentary, asking the question 'why is cycling and the bicycle back in fashion?' The film, which is directed by BAFTA winning director and keen cyclist Michael B. Clifford, tells the story of cycling in the land that invented the modern bicycle, its birth, decline and re-birth from Victorian origins to today. The film weaves bicycle design, sport and transport through the retelling of some iconic stories and features interviews with notable contributors Sir Dave Brailsford, Gary Fisher, Chris Boardman, Ned Boulting, Sir Chris Hoy, Tracy Moseley, Mike Burrows and many more, plus great archive, animation and music. 'Bicycle' is a humorous, lyrical and warm reflection on the bicycle and cycling within its place in the British national psyche.

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This film plots the rise and fall of cycling in Britain. From the penny farthing bike that only athletes could use, to the safety bicycle invented in Coventry by a car manufacturer, to the modern day passion and success of cycling amongst a wide variety of 2014 British society.

The bicycle was massively popular in the 1930's as a cheap and pleasant form of personal transport. It was still popular in the 1950's but then the economic boom from the 1960's and greater availability of cheap cars meant people switched from bike to car. This move was exacerbated by the Buchanan Report of transport planning, which ignored the needs of the cyclist in favour the motorist. From the crucial early 60's until the early 80's all town planning was devised based on the needs of the motorist, with no provision for cyclists, which meant cycling in cities became more risky and less attractive.

The film looks at the rise of the cyclist voluntary group, Sustrans, from building one off-road cycle route from Bristol to Bath along an old railway line with just a few tools and volunteers, to its £42m lottery funding to create a National Cycle Network in 1995.

It also charts the rise of competitive cycling in Britain. At one time British cyclists were only good at time-trialling (a timed race where you cycle alone) and no good at other cycle races. The film suggests this may be because all cycle races were banned by British authorities for being too dangerous.

Cycling's new life started with Chris Boardman's gold at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 on a bicycle designed in Britain with help from Lotus, the sports car manufacturer. Then came lottery funding to fund training for British cyclists and the construction of modern velodromes. Then came 8 gold medals at the London 2012 Olympics. (The total medals were 12, twice as high as the second country in the medal table.)
energy breath

energy breath

The bicycle seems like it should be a great subject for a documentary. It's a beautifully simple technology, a great thing for the environment, a symbol of freedom and independence (especially for kids), and a device for sport. It's no wonder people really really get in to them.

This film, which I rented on Vimeo, promised to cover all of that. And it did, but somehow it didn't show the passion this machine creates.

It's a highly professional documentary with a clean look and some neat archival footage and animations. The film pursues three threads about cycling in Britain, about a bike/planning advocacy organization and its successes (the transport part), a young track racer (the sport part) and bike makers (the technology/industry part). There are occasional brief glimpses of other types of cyclists.

But somehow the pieces never mesh together and I never got a clear idea of why most of these people were so involved with bikes instead of something else. Occasionally people in the film talk about a passion for bikes, but we never really see it or feel it. It could be the film tried to cover too much. Maybe it would make more sense to really focus on the bike as a green technology, or the bike as social justice, or the bike as a racing partner -- but not all at one time.

Here are some alternatives where a love for bikes is featured prominently: Pedal (2001) -- A gritty documentary about bike messengers and why they can't stop. With My Own Two Wheels (2011) -- the bike as a tool for quality of life and social justice. Breaking Away (1979) -- A classic. A small town boy and a race that helps him come of age. ET (1982) -- These kids live on their BMX. And if you're looking for something kitsch, consider: BMX Bandits (1983) -- Nicole Kidman does some awesome tricks. If you only have time for one bike movie this month, consider one of those.


(Flash Review)

Yep, this is about bicycles. A thorough history about the bicycle combined with a not so subtle PSA about the benefits of cycling for societies on the whole. All highlighted from the UK perspective with a plea for increased government funding. The history part was nice as they mixed in a variety of people who love cycling from racing to mountain biking and even a California shout out to the BMX-ers. It also highlighted people who have impacted the world of cycling innovations. The UK PSA was overly long and probably preaching to the choir as the viewers who will actually watch this most likely love biking!