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"The Bicycle Thief" (1948) Victorio Da Sica, Italy


In the late 1940s, Italy had a very high unemployment rate, and they were struggling with their economy due to World War II. Victorio Da Sica released a neorealistic movie, “Bicycle Thieves” in 1948 to show some of the hardships of Italy. Da Sica illustrated how life can be extremely difficult with the economy and the citizen’s behaviors. The movie illustrated sacrifices of what is more important to the main character, Antonio Ricci in order to succeed. He had to sell his bed sheets in order for his family to succeed through the economic crisis.


The movie opened up with an unemployment line, and an employment official asked Ricci to report. Ricci then got a new job for posting posters around the cities, but he needed a bicycle. In order for them to get Ricci’s bicycle, they had to sell their bed sheets because they were unable to afford the bicycle. On Ricci’s first day of work, his bike was stolen and was unable to be located. Once that occurred, Ricci was furious about the stolen bike because he really needed it for work. Ricci chased the thief from the spot it was stolen until he was out of sight. Ricci then jumped on a bus to get closer to the thief, but then he got away.


The next day, Ricci went back out to search for the bicycle. The first person he encountered was a man that was talking to what was likely the thief. He refused to share any evidence of the incident. Then, Ricci had the police search another man’s apartment, which he thought was the thief. Following the search, the bicycle was not in the apartment. Finally, Ricci steals a bicycle, where he was chased down by the owner in front of his son.


Despite this story being interesting and educational, there was not so much camerawork that was theatrically pleasing or significant. There was not so much technical advancement, in fact, this film was far behind with cinematography as compared to American films in the late 1940s.


This film was a mise en scene-based story. However, one use of montage was portrayed when the film illustrated Ricci’s point of view and the thief’s point of view. It was likely that one of the three encounters was the man that stole the bike. Often, thieves tend to not tell the truth to avoid trouble. Back in these times, if anything was stolen, missing or being taken away it was a big deal for the people due to them having not enough money for work or to live happily. The post-war era in the late 1940s in Italy was likely the largest struggle in their economic history and this film was viewed to educate the rest of the world about their culture, qualities and living conditions.

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