The Bicycle Thief (or Bicycle Thieves) is an Italian film (Ladri di biciclette) made in 1948.
If you haven’t seen this film, I urge you to see it. It is easily one of the most touching and beautiful films I have ever seen.
First, a disclaimer : I need to make one thing very clear. I do not understand or know the nuances of film making. I am not a film maker, film critic or a film connoisseur or a good writer. So If you are looking for a more eloquent or technical analysis, you should stop reading now.
So what is the film about ?
Antonio Ricci is among thousands of unemployed men in post-war Italy. Jobs are hard to come by. The film starts when Antonio gets a job offered, which is sticking advertising posters on walls around the city. The job has one simple requirement – A Bicycle. Unfortunately, Antonio doesn’t own one. He had sold it sometime back so his family can eat. His wife Maria sells off the Dowry bedsheets just so that Antonio can get his Bicycle back. The Bicycle is the only way Antonio can ensure his family doesn’t starve. And as fate would have it, the Bicycle gets stolen on the first day of Antonio’s job. What follows is the search for the stolen bicycle which eventually leads to the highlight of the film, the climax.
What makes this film special enough to force a non-writer like me to write about it?
TheClimax. It hit me hard.
TheSetting. This film is set in Post World War Rome. Unemployment and Poverty is rampant as usually is after a large scale war. The setting although set in a specific period of time, feels timeless. The issues are timeless. The characters are timeless.
And that brings us to the third special thing about this film, The Characters. Simple everyday, ordinary people. Some having more bad luck than others. It is easy to love and identify with the characters of Antonio and his son Bruno. (I have to add here that most of the actors, including the lead, in the film were first time actors. Their inexperience shows in places).
Sometimes, people take away something from someone without realizing how much it could mean to the person losing it. I do not want to say much and spoil the film for you. See it.
The Bicycle Thief (or Bicycle Thieves) is one of the best films I have ever seen. After reading around about it, I realize many others seem to share this feeling. Time and again, this film has been chosen as one the Best Films Ever Made and is usually on top of that list.
I am sure this film has its faults. There are definitely things that could have been done better. But sometimes Masterpieces are Masterpieces because they have flaws and yet manage to make impact. I am sure there are lot of flawless and perfect art pieces that never managed to stir a feeling in the heart and mind of the beholder.