The Bicycle Thief (1948)
Directed by Vittorio De Sica
Starring: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell
With jobs hard to come by, Antonio Ricci is one of the lucky ones. He’s been offered a job and all he needs is his bicycle. After getting his bike back from the pawn shop, Antonio (Maggiorani) and his son Bruno (Staiola) get things ready for his first day on the job. This great start comes to an abrupt end when Antonio’s bicycle is stolen while he’s out on the job. Now Antonio and Bruno are wandering the city, looking for the bicycle that holds the key to their future.
The movies that came out of Italy following World War II are a painful look at the realities of life. The Bicycle Thief is another film that looks at the challenges of the working class in a country torn by war. Vittorio De Sica (A Farewell to Arms) does a wonderful job bringing the painful moments of life to the screen. De Sica is lucky enough to have a wonderful cast to tell this dramatic tale. Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, and Lianella Carell bring the Ricci family to life wonderfully. This is an incredible feat considering the fact that none of these three had ever acted before starring in this movie.
This movie captures the elation and despair in equal measures throughout the movie. From the high moment when Antonio receives his new job, to the lows of wandering through the city in search of his bicycle, the movie is an emotional roller coaster. The film also takes a long look at the concept of justice and how it played out for everyone involved. The movie carries a message about fairness and reality that comes together powerfully in the conclusion.
My one complaint with this film is the way the story seems to wander at times. There is a point in the middle of the movie where I found myself looking for the reason for some of the scenes. This is only a problem for me since it slowed the pace of the film to a crawl at some points. Fortunately the movie has more strong moments that make up for this.
This is a great movie for fans of foreign film. This is not a happy movie, instead it focuses on the cold reality of living in poverty. It’s also a great look at what people will do to support themselves and their loved ones. If you like powerful emotional dramas you’ll love this one. I would also recommend this to anyone who might not have seen much Italian cinema. I give this one 4.5 out of 5 stars.