The Bicycle Thief is a story based on the novel of the same name by Luigi Bartolini, directed by Vittorio De Sica and produced in Rome in 1948. It’s an emotional story about frustration and desperation with a very pessimistic tone. The film is an example of Italian neorealism and the story takes place in Rome post-WWII, like many others Antonio is desperate for work to provide for his family. Antonia is offered a job posting advertisement around town, but to accept the offer he needs a bicycle. The family has no money and in order for Antonio to take the job his wife Maria desperately strips the bed of sheets and sells it to the pawn shop to collect the money. On his first day of work his bike is snatched by a young boy and Antonio and his son Bruno spend a long Sunday trying to track down the thief.
This drama focuses on the struggling working class of the time, the characters concern and behaviors are the essence of the film and economic problems are emphasized. When Antonio comes looking for a job we see a crowed of young men desperately waiting for a job opportunity, and when Antonio and his wife are forced to sell their bedding to buy the bike we see a large warehouse filled to the ceiling of similar items that people have been forced to sacrifice for cash.
Finding the bike is the main matter of the film, and it seems like the bicycle is everything Antonio cares about. But at one point in the film Antonio loses track of his son Bruno and for a second he thinks that Bruno is the boy who almost drowns in the river. When he realizes that Bruno is safe he is relived and he gains perspective on the situation. Maybe finding the bike isn’t the most important thing in his life? Personally, I felt like this film was a story about the relationship between a father and a son through struggling times. There are a few powerful shots of Bruno walking next to his father looking to him for guidance. At the end of the film desperation leads Antonio to grab an unattended bicycle on the street, however he is caught stealing by an upset group of men. Bruno runs to protect his father and the man whose bicycle was stolen by Antonio sees this and lets Antonio go. The father and son walks away in the crowd and even though they never find the bike, at least they have each other in this difficult time.