Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Bicycle Thieves (1948, Vittorio De Sica)
Starmummy is back from a short dormancy to bring you a true cinema classic. I must have checked this film out of the library at least 5 times previously but never got around to watching it, until now. If you know anything about film, you've heard of this particular movie. It has been called one of the greatest films ever made and popularized the neo-realism movement, which employed actors with no training.
Bicycle Thieves (or Ladri di biciclette as it was known in its native Italy and The Bicycle Thief in the U.S.) is the story of Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani), an unemployed husband and father of two. He finally gets a job hanging up posters but is told that he needs a bicycle or else the job will go to someone else. He explains his dilemma to his wife Maria (Lianella Carell) who then sells their bedsheets to get Antonio a bike. However, on his first day on the job, his bike is stolen. Antonio and his young son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) search through the streets of Rome to find the bike napper, which brings them to several different locations, including a fortune teller, a church and a restaurant.
Bicycle Thieves is by all accounts a brilliant film. The untrained cast pull off their performances marvelously and with absolute realism, especially Maggiorani as a desperate father and 7 year old Staiola, one of the most memorable child performances I've ever seen in a film. The father and son's quest is full of many high and low events which really make the audience feel for the characters. I highly recommend picking up Criterion's release of this film, which comes with 2 discs and a 75 page book with interviews and articles about the film.