The Bicycle Thief is a very touching 1948 Italian classical neorealist film directed by the legendary Vittorio De Sica. The film is based on a novel by Luigi Bartolini and tells the story of Antonio Ricci, a man looking for a job after World War II ended and the Italian economy had suffered from the depression. At last, he finds a job hanging up posters in the streets but in order to have it, he needs to own a bicycle. He and his wife decide to sell some of their home stuff in order to buy a bicycle and so he finally gets the job. One day, while hanging up some posters on the wall, a thief comes and steals his bicycle. Antonio tries to follow him but then he loses him. So he starts to walk in the streets of Rome with his son trying to find the bicycle, and he finds the thief but cannot get the bicycle back because he does not have any proof of owning it. He then abandons the issue and tries to find a way to get another bicycle in order to keep his job.
It is important to mention that De Sica’s actors were mostly not professional actors and the film was considered “one of the most effective uses of non-professionals” in the history of film industry. De Sica succeeded in playing the game of shifts between tragedy and comedy and was clearly inspired by the films of Charlie Chaplin, who was his favorite filmmaker and to which he paid tribute in the final shot of the film which shows Antonio and his son walking away from the camera. Also, it is important to observe the director showed the lives of working people after the devastation of World War Two. Throughout the film we observe members of the neighbourhood working such as the people working the the cafes in the opening scenes. De Sica took a different perspective to directing in this film as opposed to his previous work. Memorably, he filmed real streets and real people, which takes us back to the starting point that makes the film so special: having real people and not professional actors.
Talking about the dialogues and the script in the film, one of the quotes that I remember the most from the film is Antonio’s saying: “Why should I kill myself worrying when I’ll end up just as dead?” The film holds many inspiring messages, but the most important one that you discover while watching the film is that Antonio’s son Bruno is the center of interest in the film, especially because he’s the reason why Antonio left the case of his bicycle, because he was afraid of “losing” his son and he remembers the love he shares with his son who, in a way, tries to protect his father. So whenever Antonio wants to do something that might include violence or might hurt his son in any possible way, he tricks Bruno and tells him to do something else to keep him far from his plan and protect him. Bruno is the image of the generation that emerges from the post-fascist Italians, showing how eager he is in helping his father and his desire to participate in building their life again. Moreover, we see Bruno and his father several times walking side by side, but the remarkable thing is that Bruno was always looking up to his father as he tries to learn about life from him. Bruno was somehow the only source that reminds Antonio that he should at least deliver one thing to his son, which is hope. The film offers several layers of the story. Although the dialogue offers a certain pessimist view of life, through this pessimism the relationship between father and son was clearly shown: the last shot of the film might also show that these two are walking together perhaps to find a better chance, to have a better life and most importantly to never lose hope.
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