Finally watched this absolute gem. Set in post-World War II Rome, The Bicycle Thief tells a simple story of one man’s personal struggle.
Antonio Ricci is a poor family man who lands a job, which depends on his having a bicycle. His bicycle is at the pawn shop and his wife pawns the family linen to get it released. These are difficult times and jobs are scarce. Antonio finally has a chance at making things better for his family.
On his first day at work, his bicycle is stolen.
The narrative then traces his increasingly desperate search for the stolen bicycle accompanied by his nine-year-old boy. In these 90 minutes, we see poverty, a father-son relationship, corruption, frustration and humiliation as they encounter, among others, a club impresario; a fortune-teller; a laborer at a bicycle marketplace with hundreds of bikes, including one that is being repainted; an old man at a homeless shelter run by society ladies; and a young man who probably is the thief, his defensive mother and their belligerent neighbors….
Lamberto Maggiorani as the father and Enzo Staiolaas as the son are dignified and memorable as the central characters. Filmed in gritty black and white, the images reflect the mood of the film well and each scene feels necessary and perfectly in synergy with the overall theme. The film is in Italian with English subtitles.
Vittorio de Sica‘s Italian Neorealist masterpiece has been widely recognised as one of the best movies ever made, influencing the likes of Jean-Luc Godard and Satyajit Ray. Pick a quiet sunday afternoon, curl up with hot tea and let its quiet simplicity draw you in. It will leave you with many new thoughts.