I decided to see The Bicycle Thief today after a long time. I gotta say it was one really good cinema i have seen in many days. The plot is as simple as it can get.
The main protagonist Antonio Ricci has just got a job, a luxury, in the bleak post World War 2 Italy. But the job requires Antonio to have a bicycle of his own. His wife, Maria, sells off her beddings so that Antonio can purchase the bicycle. On his first day of the job, a thief robs the bicycle while Antonio is busy sticking his posters. The remainder of the movie is all about how Antonio and his son, Bruno, try their best, to find the stolen bicycle. Their quest takes them to two bicycle markets, a church where they follow an old man who has had a dialogue with the thief and finally to the thief. But due to lack of evidence, the thief escapes. The film ends with Antonio making a desperate attempt to steal a bicycle with him being caught and then let off. It really breaks one’s heart.
After the movie is logged onto the net to look it up and read some more on it. Came to learn that this is one of the best movies in the Italian Neo realist genre. I got quite interested and read more. Came across some interesting points on wikipedia. A detailed discussion on this film will be dont in the coming posts.
Some essential reading about the movie and the genre can be done on the following links
Ideologically, the characteristics of Italian neorealism were:
- a new democratic spirit, with emphasis on the value of ordinary people
- a compassionate point of view and a refusal to make facile moral judgments
- a preoccupation with Italy’s Fascist past and its aftermath of wartime devastation
- a blending of Christian and Marxist humanism
- an emphasis on emotions rather than abstract ideas
Stylistically, neorealism was:
- an avoidance of neatly plotted stories in favor of loose, episodic structures that evolve organically
- a documentary visual style
- the use of actual locations–usually exteriors–rather than studio sites (which often displayed the post-war destruction of Italy)
- the use of nonprofessional actors, even for principal roles
- use of conversational speech, not literary dialogue
- avoidance of artifice in editing, camerawork, and lighting in favor of a simple “style-less” style.