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Cinemaniac

“The bicycle thief” (1948) – A Journey which against human alienation

July 7, 2018
“The bicycle thief” (1948) is a film by the Italian director Vittorio De Sica in the new reality trend (neorealism) (1942-1951). The plot tells the story of a poor man Antoni Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani) getting a job but people are required to have a bicycle. Antoni and his wife sell bed sheets to buy one. On the first day of work, unfortunately, it was stolen and Antoni was bewildered, searching indifferently. He and his son Bruno spent a whole day searching for bicycles on the roads of Rome. The idea of ​​catching the thief but Antoni has no evidence while that person is protected by everyone. The character gets stuck and decides to steal a bike. He was chased beat right in front of the child. The film ends with Antoni being spared and her son confusing into a busy stream.

From the situation of the bicycle being lost, the work opens up many layers of meaning and powerful impact to reflect on the fate of people in the post-war period. Antoni doesn’t have many options: he can only keep his job when he has a bicycle and that will support his family. But misfortune struck when Antoni lost it. He makes every effort to find the bicycle, and his son travels the streets of Rome, accepting the game of chance of fate. Antoni clung to the government, but the response was indifference and irresponsibility. He relied on friends and fortune-tellers and spirits. It can be seen that, through each stage, the character becomes smaller and more lonely. Human beings seek supernatural powers when they themselves cannot control reality, their powerlessness in removing deadlock and their belief in gods are the ultimate source of comfort.

The whole movie becomes a hopeless journey to search. The street appears like an endless maze full of random, accidental. When choosing such an object, De Sica makes the plot loose, incoherent, and many turns. It is all in the intention to express the director’s new conception of reality, that is the imperfections and tragic fate of the people. Bicycle thieves have never been (and probably never were) really exposed. It exists as a tormented phobia that suffocates Antoni’s wisdom. So the character chasing one person after another seems like the right goal but maybe it is just a push of crisis, psychological tension leading to misperception. People are lost, deadlocked. It is in the context of survival, dignity is gradually alienated. Antoni sometimes became unjustly irritable with his beloved son. The state of fear,

The film contains many details that are not related to the chain of cause and effect, especially the scene when two father-in-law suddenly appear as monks. The narrow frame emphasizes the feeling that the two small people are overwhelmed. This feeling reaches a high point near the end of the film as Antoni and Bruno walk in the middle of the towering building, which is backlit. It evokes helplessness, impotence, poorness. The sound of the noisy, hustle and bustle streets occupies an outstanding capacity, bringing stress and frustration. Subtle use of elements outside the storyline helps viewers penetrate into the repressive, distressing situation that people are experiencing. Finally Antoni fell into a vicious circle again, when he became a thief, the victim became a criminal. The film has a deep black-and-black color: the character’s name is “Ricci” (rich) but in reality he is very poor. The illusion of a society in which institutions can protect it collapses. The final scene is haunting: father and son holding hands in tears. They do not say a word because of the bitter, humiliating. Everyone understood that there was something broken and cracked. The poor, unkempt people mixed in the busiest road back and forth. The wheel of life spins no matter what human destiny is being pushed to lose its human nature.

The choice of an open, unresponsive solution expresses the concept of the nature of the filmmakers’ realism. Society exists many dim spots, ambition to explain the search for truth is impossible. And the journey of life is the journey against alienation in every human being. The film is simple yet profound and touching. De Sica chose a small story to tell the fate of the people forever. It raises beliefs in institutions, love, purity, honesty. It was all extremely fragile and beyond the reach of the creator itself ……

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