Bicycle Thieves (1948)
Frequently Asked Questions
Set during post-World War II's depressed economy of Rome, Italy, Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani), unemployed father of two children, lands a job hanging posters. His first day on the job, however, his bicycle and principle transportation is stolen, so he and his young son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) desperately go looking for it.
Ladri di Biciclette [English: Bicycle Thieves] (1946) is a novel by Italian writer Luigi Bartolini [1892-1963]. However the plots of the film and book are very different, because Vittorio De Sica already had an idea to make a movie portraying poverty, unemployment, and the desperation that comes from that, so he and his co-writers used the novel to write a complete script. All Vittorio De Sica had to pay Luigi Bartolini was for the use of the title. The novel was adapted for the movie by Italian screenwriter Cesare Zavattini.
Ricci again sees the thief (Vittorio Antonucci) and follows him to his home on the Via Panico, stopping him repeatedly to demand the return of his bicycle. While Bruno runs off to get a policeman, the neighbors rally around the thief to proclaim his innocence. Bruno returns with the policeman who searches the thief's house and finds nothing. He.asks Ricci whether he has any proof of or witnesses to the theft, but Ricci does not. Realizing that he's going to get no help, Ricci leaves the Via and begins to walk home with Bruno. Suddenly, he notices a bicycle propped against a doorway with no one watching it. He gives Bruno money for the streetcar and tells him to meet him at the Monte Sacro. Out of sheer desparation, Icci returns to the unwatched bicycle and attempts to steal it. However, no sooner does he get on it, the owner rushes out the door and starts yelling. The owner is joined by several other men who chase Ricci, catching up with him a few blocks later. Bruno, who is still waiting for a streetcar, sees it all happen and runs crying to his father. The men start to walk Ricci to the police station, but the bicycle owner decides not to have him arrested on grounds that Ricci already has enough trouble after setting such a fine example for his son. In the final scene, Ricci and Bruno walk home together in shame.
The neorealist movement sprung up in Italy after the end of WWII as all of Europe was trying to rebuild itself. It was in retaliation to a general belief that most people find life dull and boring and use their imaginations to fantasize a better world. The neorealistic film is one that attempts to see the beauty in everyday life as people go about doing what people do. Consequently, the neorealistic film is made to look as realistic as possible by, for example, shooting outdoors in natural light and using amateur actors.