Bicycle Thieves

Bicycle Thieves ★★★★★

"There's a cure for everything except death."

Bicycle Thieves is a true classic of post-war Italian cinema. The film personifies the refreshing fact that European cinema was more daring and also true in their reaction to post-war life. It has been a critical favorite for decades and for good reason. It's a must-see film for any cinephile.

The film has a strong, but simple story with socio-political undercurrents and a powerful ending. On the surface, it's about a desperate, impoverished man's hunt for a stolen bicycle by getting it back means keeping his job and supporting his family. Dig a little deeper, this Italian neorealist film shows the viewer what it's like to be a poor person up against, swallowed by, then spat out by the system during 1940s era war-torn Rome. That ending is really something.

Such a man as presented by Vittorio De Sica is Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani), who's an actor who really is the type of actor right off the street, a father of a little boy Bruno Ricci (Enzo Staiola) who gets a job putting up movie posters along some walls in Rome. To do this he needs a bicycle or the job will be lost and he gets one following a pawning of linen sheets. Very soon though, the bicycle is stolen, from there a sad downward spiral unravels for the man and his son as they scour the streets for the bicycle.

While the score adds basic dramatic tension, everything else on the screen is done to such a pitch of neo-realism it's at times shattering, joyful (scene in the pizzeria the most note-worthy) and with a feeling of day-to-day resonance to those who may have not even felt at or below the poverty level in their lives.

Credit due to all parties involved, though I don't think the boy Bruno, (played by Enzo Staiola) gets nearly enough considering his role as a minor coming-of-age that moment after the father and son leave the church nearly brought tears to my eyes.

Overall, Bicycle Thieves is generally hailed as a masterpiece, one of the greatest films ever made and I couldn't agree more.

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