Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thief) (1949)



Director:  Vittorio de Sica

Starring:  Lamberto Maggiorani (Antonio Ricci), Enzo Staiola (Bruno), Lianella Carell (Maria), Gino Saltamerenda (Baiocco), Vittorio Antonucci (The Thief), Giulio Chiari (The Beggar), Elena Altieri (The charitable Lady), Carlo Jachino ( A Beggar), Michele Sakara (Secretary of the Charity Organization), Emma Druetti, Fausto Guerzoni (Amateur Actor).


Italy's post-World War II depression.  In Italy during this time it is all about survival for many Italians.  A man who has been unemployed for two years finally gets a job putting up posters.  But to get the job he has to have a bicycle to get him around town.  He had recently pawned his bike for his family's survival. Now he has to pawn the family's linen in order to get the bike back.  He goes out on his job for the first time and, wouldn't you know it, someone steals his bicycle.  Given the economic depression in Italy, he now has to scramble to recover his bicycle.

This movie could have been called "Desperation."  This man is absolutely desperate; so desperate, in fact, that he even risks being seriously hurt physically.  And the fact that a man finds himself in such a desperate situation is what is so sad about this film.  I really felt bad for the man and his family.  But that's neorealism for yah!

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:


Italian neorealism is a film movement which deals with stories set amongst the poor and working class. The films frequently used nonprofessional actors for secondary roles.

The movement was developed by a circle of film critics involved with the magazine Cinema. The circle included Michelangelo Antonioni, Luchino Visconti, Gianni Puccini, Giuseppe De Santis, and Pietro Ingrao.

The films deal with the difficult economical and moral conditions of postwar Italy:   Thousands of Italians had to emigrate from Italy to find a place to make a living. 

1943 --  beginning of Italian neorealism with Ossessione by Luchino Visconti.

1946-1948  --  term of Enrico da Nicola (Provisional Head of State).

1948-1955   --  term of President Luigi Einaudi.

1950s  --  Italy became a member of the NATO alliance and an ally of the United States.  The Marshall Plan helped revive the Italian economy.

1952  --  end of Italian neorealism with Umberto D.

1955-1962  --   term of President Giovanni Gronchi.



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