With a tragicomic hospital series, the private broadcaster VOX had a mega hit from 2015 to 2017, which also won international awards. The accompanying movie Red Bracelets: The Beginning (de. Club der roten Bänder – Wie alles begann, 2019) now describes the history of the gang. Of course, this is primarily fan service, but fans of the series definitely get something to be happy about. We reveal more about this in our review.
The Plot Summary
Long before Leo (Tim Oliver Schulz), Jonas (Damian Hardung), Emma (Luise Befort), Alex (Timur Bartels), Hugo (Nick Julius Schuck) and Toni (Ivo Kortlang) share their everyday hospital life with each other as the “Club of the Red Ribbons”. , they all have to endure difficult blows of fate independently of one another. Leonard in particular goes through one crisis after another: after a cancer diagnosis, not only does his leg have to be amputated, but his mother also dies as a result of a tumor. Aside from his sister, the only thing that gives him a little support is his initially dismissive roommate Ben (Jürgen Vogel), who helps him deal with the new situation. Meanwhile, Luise, who has an eating disorder, gets into trouble with the police when she runs into an undercover detective while buying drugs. Jonas’ brother doesn’t stop bullying him even when he too is confronted with a serious illness diagnosis. Alex suffers from his mother leaving after her father cheated on her. The autistic Toni desperately tries to find friends and the comatose Hugo watches over everyone as a kind of good spirit who will later ensure that the six friends get together…
Red Bracelets: The Beginning explanation of the ending
Based on the successful Catalan series “Polseres vermelles” and its book “Secrets of Happiness from the Yellow World”, VOX released its first self-produced TV series in 2015. With up to three million viewers in the targeted target group, the tragicomic format based on true events by author Albert Espinosa proved to be a real crowd pleaser. The features section was also impressed by the balancing act of staging the harsh reality within a hospital ward in a light-footed manner, but never in a romanticized way; Cancer, eating disorders, amputations, autism – the screenwriters and directors tackled all these and many more topics in the 30 episodes – every laugh was followed by a tear. The makers hit the hearts of their viewers straight away. And yet after three seasons it was over. So far, those responsible have kept their word, but a final film, “How it all began,” is now coming to cinemas, which, however, does not continue the events of the series, but instead turns out to be a prequel. And as such, the “Red Ribbon Club” film of course has no narrative relevance for outsiders; It goes without saying that the tragicomedy is primarily an exposition for the subsequent series episodes and is therefore primarily aimed at fans.
Hugo (Nick Julius Schuck) aka “The Good Spirit” will later be the one who brings the club together.
Director Felix Binder and his screenwriters Arne Nolting and Jan Martin Scharf, who have already been involved in several series episodes, add some interesting corners and edges to the well-known characters, so that we once again discover completely new sides to the characters we have grown to love – and a completely new one from which we We wished he had been in the series too, but more on that later. While the series gave all club members similar screen time, the film focuses primarily on the character of Leonard. That’s obvious, after all, he is established in the TV show as the one who had already spent most of his time in the hospital at the time and, as the founder of the gang, was later appointed leader anyway. At the same time, his life story is simply the most exciting: with the cancer and the subsequent death of his mother, the break with his father, the amputation of his leg and the tragic loss of a good friend, the patient, who later calls himself Leo, gets the whole spectrum from tragic blows of fate that one can hardly imagine for a teenager of his age. So we discover how Leonard becomes Leo; And this is of course particularly emotional, especially for the series viewers who have already spent many years with him.
The other characters in the film remain primarily supporting characters. Depending on your point of view, this is either a shame or the absolutely right decision, because the way the story is told here, not every one of them has the potential for detailed consideration. At the same time, this also takes away a lot of substance from these storylines; Of course, Jonas, Emma, Alex, Hugo and Toni have to be there too, but since Toni’s subplot, for example, only consists of a series of generalities, it would almost have been better to delete it completely. In general, it’s Toni’s backstory surrounding him and his story by Dieter Schaad (“The House of Crocodiles”) played grandfather, which causes the biggest frown. What is discussed in “Red Ribbon Club – How it all began” no longer has anything to do with the sincere and honest discussion of the condition of autism. Instead, generalities are rattled off here that sometimes make Toni, who is actually just shy of people (and autistic), look like an absolute idiot. That doesn’t do justice to his character or the series, in which various illnesses were always dealt with in a professionally correct manner.
The Red Ribbon Club is founded.
The atmosphere of the series still largely matches “Red Bracelets: The Beginning”; certainly not least because the same people in front of and behind the camera are largely responsible for the film as for the TV format. Cameraman Thomas Schinz’s images are based on the always slightly overlit shots of his series colleagues Robert Berghoff and Ergün Cankaya, which, in a positive sense, maintains the impression that we are looking at nothing more (but also nothing less) than an absolutely high-quality film produced TV series can be seen on the big screen. The same applies to the rhythm. On television, each episode ended with a voiceover from the good spirit Hugo, who summarized the moral of each episode. That also applies here; Whenever a crucial dramaturgical section comes to an end, Hugo is allowed to comment, so that you sometimes get the impression that you are watching a handful of connected series episodes rather than a film that stands alone. At least on this level the film gets full marks (from a fan’s perspective): the dialogues, the technical presentation and the serial dramaturgy correspond exactly to what one is used to from the format. And a Jürgen Vogel (“So much time”) then refines the whole thing even further, even if it is a shame that its storyline is the only one that is completely told in the context of the film. It would have been an excellent addition to the series.
Conclusion: Fan service can also be staged in such a way that viewers who have previously had nothing to do with a format are still attracted. That would be the ultimate discipline. Unfortunately, the makers of “Red Bracelets: The Beginning” didn’t succeed. Her film is a harmonious addition to the series, which reveals some new sides to its well-known characters, especially Leo, especially to fans. It’s a shame that the other characters have to take a backseat to him.
“Red Bracelets: The Beginning” can be seen in USA cinemas nationwide from February 14th.