Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Bicycle Thief


THE BICYCLE THIEF (BLACK AND WHITE, 1948)

Director
Vittorio De Sica

Cast
Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell, Gino Saltermerenda, Vittiro Antonucci and Elena Altieri

Ages
10 and up

Language:
Italian

Plot
Antonio (Maggiorani) has just been given a job as a labourer who pastes posters on the street walls, but he needs a bike, and his is spoiled. After his wife Maria (Carell) pawns the bed-sheets, he gets it repaired and is now able to work. When it is stolen, he and his son (Staiola) go searching for it high and low around post-war Rome.

Antonio (Maggiorani) and his son (Staiola) sharing a happy moment in the film.


Why it’s good
Really, really, sad. This crime-drama had an impact on the movies I watched at the time. These movies belonged to the class of extremely neo-realistic masterpieces of sadness.

The film starts a bit like On the Waterfront (1954), where there are the tickets for jobs and it moves to Antonio. The job-giver asks Antonio whether he has a bicycle, and he mutters the answer, yes and no, before the others say, give the job to me.
             
Does the film spark a happy ending? The answer is, in a spoiler form, no. Antonio steals another bicycle and the film ends with the father and son walking along the busy streets.

The film-making is justly excellent. There is a lot of investigation on ordinary lives in post-war Rome. There are  scenes at an ordinary church, and later at the restaurant, where there the director deeply compares between the rich and the poor.

Also a perfect film to watch for parent-and-child bonding. It explores values like whether it is correct to steal a bicycle, and the consequences.

Parent’s guide
Nothing at all except a tiny little fight on the street.

Trivia
Seirgo Leone, the future Western director, makes a cameo in this film. 

If you like this…
The "400 Blows" (1959) explores similar themes.     

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