TV tip: Mini-series »The Rope« based on the book by Stefan from Siepen on Arte

The rope (La corde) - mini-series in three parts based on the novel by Stefan aus dem Siepen.  (Photo: Arte)
The rope (La corde) – mini-series in three parts based on the novel by Stefan aus dem Siepen. (ARTE France / © Les Films de l’Instant/G.Chekaiban)

In 2012 the novel »Das Seil« by Stefan aus dem Siepen was published. On the outskirts of their village, farmers find a rope that leads into the forest and that seems to have no end. Arte France has made a mini-series worth seeing from this motif specification, which can be accessed in the media library of the TV station.

Stefan from Siepen works as a diplomat in the Foreign Office. He also works as an author. His narrow novel »The Rope« caused enthusiasm among the critics. The story is not anchored in time and place and can be read as a parable with a lot of room for interpretation. One evening, farmer Bernhardt discovers a thumb-thick rope in the meadow. The rope leads into the forest, the other end cannot be seen. Eventually, the peasants form a hiking party and expedition to seek the end, as the rope seems incredibly long. The hike changes the hikers and the village. When should you turn back?

A small group from the research station in the forests of Norway set out to find the end of the rope (Photo: Arte)
Serge (Jean-Marc Barr), Dani (Planitia Kenese), Leïla (Christa Théret) and Sophie (Jeanne Balibar) set out to find the end of the rope (Photo: ARTE France / © Les Films de l’ Instant/G.Chekaiban)

Siepen’s novel, which is also available in French, was adapted around 10 years later by Arte France as a three-part mini-series. Only the rope and its effect remained as a motif. Screenwriter Eric Forestier has turned the rural village into a community of European researchers and scientists who look after a radio telescope system in the lonely forests of Norway. They live there like in a commune. There is no Wi-Fi or mobile communications so as not to disturb the technology of the huge bowls.

One day the head of the facility, also called Bernhardt, finds the end of a rope at the edge of the forest. Although a research project that has been planned for years is nearing its most important phase, a small group decides to follow the rope to see where it leads.

Agnès Mueller (Suzanne Clément) remains at the research station with others. Will her husband come back from the expedition? (Photo: ARTE France / © Les Films de l’Instant/G.Chekaiban)

Screenwriter Eric Forestier and director Dominique Rocher have skilfully expanded the novel idea by several dimensions. The setting in the Norwegian forest is convincing. If you want to classify the series in terms of genre, you would classify it as a »mystery«, interspersed with smaller horror elements. It reminds me a little of the »Lost« series.

The series is an occasion to read the original book – or to read it again. One sees and reads two different works with the same motif, which do not take anything away and which inspire both.

The French Arte production can be accessed free of charge in the Arte media library until February 25, 2022.

Link to web:

The rope (La corde). France/Belgium. 2021. Miniseries in three parts based on the novel by Stefan aus dem Siepen. With RichardCollection, Jeanne Balibar, Suzanne Clément, Jakob Cedergren, Jean-Marc Barr and others. Screenplay: Eric Forestier. Directed by Dominique Rocher. Approx. 3 x 50 minutes, Arte France.

Stefan from the Siepen: The rope: Roman. 2012. dtv Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG. €9.90