"The Bicycle Thief"  - Italian Films - Directed by Vittorio De Sica
1-World Festival of Foreign Films
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The Bicycle Thief
(a.k.a. "Bicycle Thieves")
(Ladri Di Biciclette)
Italy 1948
Directed by Vittorio De Sica


 

Vittorio de Sica directed and co-wrote this simple yet moving film. A working class Italian manages to find a job after months of unemployment. The new job is dependent upon his owning a bike and, needless to say, when his bicycle gets stolen his job is jepordised. The film then follows the man's journey as he searches the city for the culprit. Together with his son, he encounters many different characters and situations, some frustrating, some amusing but all a poignant rendition of a working class life.

A brilliant study of ravaged postwar Italy, De Sica's finest achievement is bringing the previously (cinematically) ignored working classes to the screen. Like many of the neo-realist directors, his primary aim in the Bicycle Thieves was to use the camera to show how people lived, whilst maintaining an objective distance. The non-professional actors give fine performances and lend the film a documentary-like air, even though the narrative itself is fictional. The film is a conscious backlash against the Hollywood middleclass melodrama, shown ironically in the film itself when a poster of Rita Hayworth is pasted to an advertising board. However, it won a special Academy Award before the category of best foreign film was invented.

Bicycle Theives contains all the elements of typical neo-realism: harsh cinematography, poverty of the principle characters, urban squalor and, of course, a lack of judgement at the character's predicament. A classic from the Italian neo-realist movement.

Runtime:  90 Minutes

Review by Zoe Grainge
Taken from EUFS Programme 1997-98

Copyright © 1995-1998 Edinburgh University Film Society

 

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