My knowledge of Italian cinema extends to Steve Reeves' sword 'n' sandal epics of the sixties, early eighties Mad Max rip off's, zombie and cannibal flicks and of course the legendary Dario Argento. So, having no real knowledge of this film or its reputation I quietly put the disc into my player and sat back.
The Bicycle Thieves is the story of one man, Antonio whose job is to put up posters around his town. Trading in family possessions to enable him to buy a bike which is an essential part of his job, the evitable happens and just as the title says, the bike is stolen. Aided by his son Bruno, Antonio must find those who are responsible for ruining his livelihood.Made in post war Italy, The Bicycle Thieves has now been deemed a classic by many film scholars and the public alike. The film was bestowed a special Oscar upon it in 1948 even though American audiences didn't get a release until the following year. The film's two central performances from Lamberto Maggiorani (Antonio) and Enzo Staiola (Bruno) hit the right amount of emotion in a world which is full of depression and no hope. One cannot not imagine what post war Italy was like after losing in World War II and the film paints a realistic portrayal of ordinary people's plight in which light could not be seen at the end of the tunnel.
I can see how the film has its admirers and I can understand how many people rate it as one of the best films ever made. However, I found the film cold especially its ending. I can admire (as I said above) the two strong central performances and the way director Vitorio De Sica has made a film with amateur performers and against near impossible odds but I found the film a bit of a chore to sit through.
This is the first time the film has seen a UK DVD release which will no doubt please its fans, a friend of mine simply adores the film and couldn't understand why I didn't care for it. It's all down to people's different opinions, if we all liked the same things in life, wouldn't it be boring?
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