JUPITERS TRAVELS | 90 Min | ZDF/Arte 2002

This 90-minute film was shot in the course of one year in England, Germany, Italy, Tunisia, Sudan, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa. It tells the story of Ted Simon, who - at the age of 70 - is riding around the world on a motorbike the second time. His book "Jupiter´s Travels" about his first journey in the 70ies is a bestseller not only among bikers.

"Without memory we are like monkeys, like apes, doomed to chaos and foolishness. I think it´s probably the most important single aspect of humanity. Because without it we have nothing to make comparisons with: we can´t tell stories, we can´t develop our imagination. Everything depends on our ability to remember. So for me the exercise of trying to relate what I find today with what I remember from 27 years ago is a very valid exercise. I think it will illuminate something." (Ted Simon)
Jupiter´s Travels tells the story of a remarkable adventure undertaken by a remarkable man at a remarkable time of his life. Ted Simon is famous for his book Jupiter´s Travels and for the journey that book charted - a 4-year circumnavigation of the globe on a motorbike. Few could ever contemplate undertaking such a venture. None of us would dare to do it twice. His first journey he started in 1973, at the age of 42. He rode 78,000 miles through 45 countries. It was a journey to the centre of his soul. The book became a bestseller in many languages and cult for people who travel - particularly with motorcycles. It describes not only a glorious series of landscapes, cultures and characters; but also how his life on the road brought him "a taste of the nectar of the gods". In January 2001 Ted Simon - now 70 years old - sets out to ride around the world on a motorbike again: "I am going to do the same route again. It´s more a question of trying to check out how everything has changed in 27 years. It´s such a long period of time. I´ve got photographs of all the people I met and talked to then. There were so many episodes in the book, that brought those places to life. And I´d like to see how the world has changed." The film accompanies the biker on the first leg of his journey: from Dorchester in Southern England to Cape Town. It´s a road movie which takes us through Europe and through the length of the African continent. A film about travel, memory and discovery. The story unfolds as the hero struggles with a bag full of cables: mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras, a CD burner and all kinds of adapters and batteries. They are there to link him with his sponsors. Most of them are readers of his books and they pay to read of his new adventure. He keeps in touch through his own website: Following his own tracks Ted Simon finds Guiseppe in Italy, a butcher, who was a boy when he came through first. He searches for Mohammed in Tunis - in vain. In Sudan he loses his motorbike and finds a whole village of people who remember him and welcome him a second time. Sitting on his high tech BMW riding through the desert for hours Ted has plenty of time to contemplate: "What´s an old geezer like me doing out here in the desert? It must seem as so I am really deliberately fighting against the odds. A sort of a King Lear figure. An old fart messing around in the sand, trying to prove, that he is still a man." He breaks his leg in Kenya and, on crutches, looks for a former bar girl - only to find what AIDS has left. He curses the internet and fights his fear of dirt roads in Zimbabwe. When he arrives at the Cape of Hope he knows: "The first time I came down here I really had a powerful sense of having overcome so much and discovered so much about myself and about the world. This time it´s just me, an old man going through Africa on a motorcycle." The story follows the journey. In stylized flashbacks - using black and white Super 8, photographs and notes from the first journey - the film compares the past with the present, confronts memory and reality, the romantic and the mundane. It tells of a man, who is not a hero, but perhaps knows how to lead a heroic life without being a hero. It shows a searcher, looking for truth in the simplest of things; a traveller, who is about to discover the never ending journey. A biker riding all the way to the end of the road. While the film ends in Cape Town Ted Simon continues to travel.

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