Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Bicycle Thief. A


It was a wonderful thing to see a movie that I genuinely loved, which is something I can't say for many of the films I've seen of late. The Italian neo-realistic The Bicycle Thief, or Bicycle Thieves depending on your interpretation, does two things absolutely perfectly. First, it depicts post-war Rome with devastating accuracy, and second it tells a story incredibly simple to touch on greater things of the human heart. As for the second part, the simplicity, there's really not much to explain. A working class man gets a job, buys the bicycle necessary for it, and then has it promptly snatched before his eyes on the first day of work. The movie, desperate from the beginning, becomes filled with tension and dread as the father and his young son roam the city searching for the stolen bicycle. The beautiful thing about the film is that the bicycle represents so much. Without it the man has no job, and with no job he cannot provide for his family. He could care less about the bike except that he needs it to put bread on the table. The Bicycle Thief has been cited as a movie of its time, but now that the the present day has reached such economic stress, it is relevant once again. People all around can relate to the father more than ever. But to me the most important aspect of the film is the one that is the most timeless: the father's relationship with his boy. He clearly is trying to set a good example for him, and he seems to understand his son greatly. We see this in the film's best scene, which takes place at a restaurant where the father recognizes his son watching a wealthy family enjoying nicer food than what they were able to order. The father is a disciplinarian, which is why the climax of the film is so shattering. I shouldn't spoil it, but I will say that the action is both moral and immoral. It can be looked at from different perspectives because the father is making a choice that is wrong but for the sake of something good. The movie has a melancholy ending, but we aren't thinking about how depressing it is. Rather we're reflecting on how we've just seen a great film.

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