Neorealism and the Bicycle Thief
“Today, more than in any other passage in film history, the tactics and ideals evoked by ‘Neorealism’ continue to represent the struggle for authenticity and political engagement in cinema.” (Criterion, Cheshire). Neorealism was a time frame in the cinema industry from 1945 Post World War II till 1951. The Neorealist movement was striving to present a new level of realism to the film industry at this time. And Victorio De Sica’s 1948 The Bicycle Thief illustrates the Italian Neorealism exquisitely.
In true Neorealism fashion nonprofessional actors were used in this film. Lamberto Maggiorani who was a factory worker was cast as Antonio Ricci. After becoming famous from his performance in The Bicycle Thief, he found himself unemployed and turned to acting fulltime. (Wikipedia, Bicycle Thief). The use of actual Italian citizens as extras helps in the authenticity of the movie, because these characters that appeared on screen were locals and were speaking there dialect, and this too was typical of a neorealism film.
As like with most Neorealism films The Bicycle Thief was shot entirely on location in Rome, unlike Hollywood movies at the time there were shot on sets. It is clear that the country and its citizens are impoverished and most are in desperate need of work. Antonio Ricci is no different. After finally getting work he is in desperate need of a bicycle to get around for his job, to hang posters around Rome. His wife, Maria pawns their sheets to buy the bicycle. So that he support his wife and two children that he has been desperately trying to do. On his first day of the job his bicycle is stolen.
For the entire next day Antonio and his son Bruno search all over Rome looking for the bicycle. There are moments of great hope and deep despair, moments of sadness and back to hope. The emotions and the stress of the day are playing out in their relationship on screen and through the ups and downs of the day. Throughout...