Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bicycle Thieves

Ladri di biciclette
Vittorio De Sica, Italy, (1949) bw (9.2*)
Best Foreign Film (AA, GG)
Best Film (BAA)

In this hallmark film of Italian post-war realism, former actor Vittorio De Sica used all amateur actors and a street realism style with stunning results. De Sica presents probably the most uncompromising and least hopeful of film stories, the film is so depressing that I've had a hard time recommending it here.

The story is a simple one, a poor Italian man, played by factory worker Lamberto Maggiorani, with a young boy gets a job posting film signs only because he has a bicycle. But like most material objects in harsh economic conditions, it gets stolen. Now the man has no bicycle to get to his job, therefore it threatens his job as well. This bicycle becomes the holy grail of this man's life and of this film.

De Sica and the other post-war realists didn't believe in the make-believe world presented by films prior to the war. Rather than escape from reality, they sought to bring the harsh reality of everyday life to the filmgoing public, perhaps with the hope that by raising awareness of the plight of some, people will be angered enough to work to make those conditions more dignified.

It's hard not to be moved by this film. Considered by many one of the finest films ever made, it certainly should be near the top of most polls. No. 85 on the IMDB 250, No. 16 on our compendium of all film polls so it's apparent that critics rank this film a much higher than the general public.

Winner of 16 awards (out of 17 nominations), including an Oscar® and Golden Globe for best foreign language film, and a British academy award (BAFTA) for best overall film.

Note: growing up, this film was always "The Bicycle Thief" - I'm not sure when or why it became plural, but I'm using the title used at IMDB


Anonymous,  September 18, 2011 at 10:06 AM  

It's a wonderful movie. The last shot is stunning.

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