THE BICYCLE THIEF (BLACK AND WHITE, 1948)
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.
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.