'Bicycle Thieves' tells the story of Antonio, a long unemployed man who finally finds employment putting up cinema posters for which he needs a bicycle. His wife pawns all the family linen to redeem their already pawned bicycle and for Antonio salvation has come, until it is stolen. Antonio and his son take to the streets in a desperate search to find the bicycle which is so crucial to his livelihood.
Key Forties Film.
- Bicycle Thieves review by Steve Mason
Devastating Italian Neo-Realism, with non-professional cast, about the humiliations of a man who can't provide for his family. A totem of social film making, and utterly relevant today.
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Of historical interest only
- Bicycle Thieves review by Alphaville
De Sica’s 1948 social drama is routinely regarded as a 5-star classic but surely only because it was the first example of Italian neo-realism, even to the extent of using non-professional actors. It’s hard to watch these days. Its influence on British cinema stretches from the kitchen-sink dramas of the 1960s to the unwatchable lottery-funded social dramas of today so it has a lot to answer for. For those who hanker after this sort of thing, there’s a surplus of slice-of-everyday-life dramas and documentaries on TV. We should expect something more imaginative from cinema. It’s enough to make you pine for some superhero nonsense. Ironically, such Italian films were lip-synched in post-production, making all dialogue tonally identical and destroying any semblance of realism. Truffaut rightly mocked the tradition in Day for Night. Thank goodness the French Nouvelle Vague arrived to reinvigorate European cinema.
I thought I ought to watch this as I'd heard of it as a classic and don't like to miss out on such things. The film begins slowly but soon you can gauge the man's desperation, then anguish which, although hard to watch, you can't turn away from unless you have a heart of stone. It's powerful stuff. The little boy, his son, turns in a bravura performance but then so do most of the cast members.
I'm really glad I've seen it now, I strongly recommend it to you.