Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Bicycle Thief


Vittorio De Sica

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

10 and up


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.

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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