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THE BICYCLE THIEF
1948 - Vittorio De Sica
Italy
73
Opening Shot

A group of men arrive off a bus at a government unemployment office where where they wait for work opportunities. Ricci's name is called but is found by a friend off in the distance from the waiting crowd. Ricci is told that a job has come up but it requires a bicycle...

The Film

"You live and you suffer." Considered by many as one of the greatest films of all-time, the Bicycle Thief is a masterpiece in cinema history. Without much focus on plot or even dialogue, the film is a touching, wonderfully shot exploration of human emotions, and an incredibly intelligent and realistic relationship of Father and Son. In the aftermath of WW2 previously unemployed Antonio finally finds work that requires a bicycle. When it's stolen on his first day of work, Antonio and his son journey the streets of Rome to find the bicycle; which is his family's only means of survival. It's a brilliant story of not only the Father-Son relationship, but a lesson of the times of unemployment and poverty, specifically the final shot of the son walking with his father, seeing the pain and feeling what the young boy is witnessing. Made very much like that of a silent film, it's a truly simplistic yet deeply powerful and perhaps the pinnacle film of the Realist Era, that has influenced many great Italian and International films since. This film perfectly captures the imperfections and darkness of humanity and its brilliance is that the film does so without forced sympathy or heroics. The Bicycle Thief contains some of the most powerful images you'll ever see in a film, and it's sure one of the saddest you'll ever experience. The Bicycle Thief is a film that must be seen, even if only once (though you'll surely want to revisit this many more times). This remains an influential and unforgettable landmark film in cinema history.

The Filmmaker

A pivotal filmmaker of the influential Italian neorealist era, Vittorio De Sica may be the most celebrated neorealist filmmaker in America (seven of his films have been recognized by the Academy Awards). Before directing, De Sica began as an actor in the 1930's, working in mostly comedies. His early films were also comedies. As post war hit Italy, De Sica and many other Italian filmmakers began making much sadder and realist portrayals of humanity and human suffering. Using non-professional actors, De Sica's films during the neorealist era are sincere and powerful explorations of poverty, despair, and hope or the lack of hope. In 1948 De Sica would make his masterpiece (The Bicycle Thief), a film that defined the era of Italian cinema as well as the human condition as few films ever had. It's a remarkable achievement and very often considered among the greatest in film history. In 1952, De Sica made an equally moving and heart-breaking (but more hopeful) film Umberto D. Despite being one of his greatest films, Umberto D failed at the box office and as a result De Sica would soon return to lighter fair which often featured big stars as well as himself as actor. They lacked the powerful emotion and passion of his greatest work, but his place in history remains undeniable. De Sica stands as one of the quintessential filmmakers of the post-war Italian neorealist cinema.

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Resources
trailer (youtube)      
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