Clorophilla is a mountain bike film with a variety of differences. First and most obviously, it’s not American – it’s the work of six Italians and was shot entirely in Italy. And “the work of six Italians” means exactly that – the riders were also the cameramen, directors and editors.
You probably haven’t heard of any of them – this isn’t a celebrity huckfest by any stretch of the imagination. Instead it’s another stab at bringing something a bit deeper to the MTB film genre, something that The Collective and Roam are working towards. Indeed, several bits of Clorophilla are quite Roam-esque, although thankfully with only the briefest of voiceovers.
Despite the green theme suggested by the cover and the name, a lot of Clorophilla was clearly shot in the Autumn – there’s lots of reds and browns, fallen leaves and low slanting sunlight going on, which all looks rather lovely. There are clearly some very marvellous bits of Italy to go riding in (although some of it looks surprisingly like the North Downs…).
There are a couple of oddities about the way the film is put together. The makers are keen to emphasise the DIY aspect of their production, and quite a lot of what would ordinarily be behind-the-scenes stuff makes it into the main feature – shots of the home-made camera dolly or cablecam rig, people carrying boxes of gear up mountains and so on. Some sections seem in danger of turning into their own making-of, and we’re not sure that that adds to the viewing experience – we always like to think that the riders are just riding for the hell of it, not because they’re making a film. Obviously, they never are, but it’s an illusion that can be maintained only so long as the actual cameras are never seen. Deliberately including the clanking/whirring noise of the cablecam rig in the tracking shots seems to us to possibly be a step too far…
That said, there are some rather wonderful bits, all set to a soundtrack almost entirely free of gung-ho rawk. A lot of the music is actually closest to traditional movie soundtracks, with lots of portentous orchestral stuff going on. This works considerably better than you might think – one particular segment follows an almost jungle-like technical trail to the accompaniment of what sounds like the music from an Indiana Jones movie, which seems strangely appropriate.
The general atmosphere is one of friends having fun on bicycles in beautiful surroundings. And that’s something that we can all relate to…