The film Bicycle thieves was released in 1948, during a time in Italy where rebuilding took place after the devastation of World War 2. What came to my attention was how the filmmakers were able to create a movie. Which is now quite known as a masterpiece of Italian neorealism, especially with the little resources they had available. The main actor of the film himself Lamberto Maggiorani, was not a professional actor at the time, yet his portrayal of the character really stood out beyond belief, and gave way to the neo-realistic feel.
From a Cinematic viewpoint, I believe the filmmakers achieved excellent visual elements. The settings in the beginning of the film showed a grim reality of what post-war Rome was like. The sequence lighting was a bit dull and use of actual on-location collapsed buildings gives an eerie feeling even today.
This film has social commentary into how we behave in society and culture. For example Antonio Ricci at the beginning of the film does not believe in the psychic that the wife continues to see and even goes to the point where he yanks her out of the room. Of course he only behaves like that when he has good fortune behind him. When his bike gets stolen he becomes careless and runs through a church, disturbing a holy session. But it is not until the ending where finally loses all hope of acquiring his bike. He goes to psychic for help that he once saw as crazy. This depicts that people tend to desperately look for help in anyway possible. Even if they previously might have seen it as a ridiculous option.
The narrative construct of this film was very compelling. Although the story is seen through the perspective of Antonio Ricci, there was also parts where Bruno would take over narration, which forged their relationship and intensified the story. From the beginning of the movie, Bruno tries to be just like his father, even dressing like him . As Bruno helps his father it becomes apparent that their relationship is crumbling, as Antonio’s obsession over his bike becomes more desperate. By the point where finding the bicycle is his top priority even more important than well-being of his son.
Bicycle Thieves is indeed one of my favorite films of black-and-white cinema. It’s a simple yet powerful motion picture that still has an impact on audiences today.