Bicycle Thieves (1948)


Bicycle Thieves (1948) – Vittorio De Sica

Ladri di biciclette (original title)

Summary:  Depressed post-World War II Italy suffers with high unemployment across the country.  Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani), who has not worked for two years, is finally offered a job of delivering film posters around the city.  With a wife, a young son (named Bruno) and a new born baby to feed; he is desperate for money.  However, the job requires a bicycle, which he does not have and therefore cannot accept.  Returning home and explaining this all to his wife (Lianella Carell) she then takes her dowry bedsheets to the pawn shop to sell so Antonio can afford a bike and take the job.  Sadly, on his first day the bike is stolen, after reporting to the police Antonio realises there is little they can do and goes out to search for the bike himself.  His son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) joins him.

My Review:  This is such a powerful film emotionally.  The portrayal of life back in Italy in this era is painfully realistic and I could really feel the struggle and desperation for Antonio to provide for his family.  When his bicycle is stolen and the search, which continues for a few days and is pure agony to watch, I was holding out all hope for this poor man, who was an unprofessional actor, to just get his bicycle, and job, back.  Believe the critics; this one is a masterpiece, with a heavy heart.

Rating:  4.5/5

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