Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Bicycle Thief

Tonight, TCM is looking at Italian cinema, including several movies that fit firmly in the neo-realist camp. The night starts off with this week's Essential, The Bicycle Thief, at 8:00 PM.

Neo-realist movies, for those who don't know, were movies made with largely non-professional actors, telling stories that could have been almost ripped from the headlines and filmed largely on location. In The Bicycle Thief, that setting is Rome in the years just after World War II and the people at the bottom of the economic ladder. Antonio and Maria are a married couple who have a son Bruno. Antonio hasn't been able to get much work, because there isn't much available. One day, however, the government employment officer (the people don't even meet at an office, but outside) offers Anotnio a job putting up movie posters. However, to do the job, it's necessary to bring one's own bicycle to transport the posters and other equipment. Antonio has a bike, or more accurately had a bike: it's in hock now, as the family needed the money to eat. So it's off to hock something else to get the bicycle out of the pawn shop. And so Antonio starts to work, only for the bicycle to be stolen at the first place he stops to put up a poster. No bike means no job, which leads Antonio on an ever more desperate search for the bicycle, with Bruno in tow. Will they find the bike? If they do, will they be able to prove it's his?

That's really all there is to the plot. But sometimes the simplest stories can be the best. The Bicycle Thief is one of those cases. Although the actors are not professionals, they do an excellent job at expressing the widespread poverty that had engulfed large sections of Italy after the country's defeat in World War II. They're helped out quite a bit by the locations: a bunch of cramped apartments and long narrow hallways. I can't imagine any of the Hollywood studios from the 1930s making poverty look like this. Not even the lower-budget more independent movies like Out Daily Bread.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is a very old movies, is this still available for download? it kinda interest me.

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