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Bicycle Thieves

Lamberto Maggiorani , Enzo Staiola , Vittorio De Sica    Unrated   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
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Product Description


Vittorio De Sica's remarkable 1947 drama of desperation and survival in Italy's devastating post-war depression earned a special Oscar for its affecting power. Shot in the streets and alleys of Rome, De Sica uses the real-life environment of contemporary life to frame his moving drama of a desperate father whose new job delivering cinema posters is threatened when a street thief steals his bicycle. Too poor to buy another, he and his son take to the streets in an impossible search for his bike. Cast with nonactors and filled with the real street life of Rome, this landmark film helped define the Italian neorealist approach with its mix of real life details, poetic imagery, and warm sentimentality. De Sica uses the wandering pair to witness the lives of everyday folks, but ultimately he paints a quiet, poignant portrait of father and son, played by nonprofessionals Lamberto Maggiorani and Enzo Staiola, whose understated performances carry the heart of the film. De Sica and scenarist Cesare Zavattini also collaborated on Shoeshine, Miracle in Milan, and Umberto D, all classics in the neorealist vein, but none of which approach the simple poetry and quiet power achieved in The Bicycle Thief. --Sean Axmaker

Product Description

Hailed around the world as one of the greatest movies ever made, Vittorio De Sica's Academy Award-winning Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette) defined an era in cinema. In postwar, poverty-stricken Rome, a man, hoping to support his desperate family with a new job, loses his bicycle, his main means of transportation for work. With his wide-eyed young son in tow, he sets off to track down the thief. Simple in construction and dazzlingly rich in human insight, Bicycle Thieves embodied all the greatest strengths of the neorealist film movement in Italy: emotional clarity, social righteousness, and brutal honesty.

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Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neorealism at its most profound! June 4 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Imagine your family's livelihood depending on a bicycle. In post-war Italy, you compete with hundreds for a job where 25% of the work force is unemployed. The job is yours but it requires you to have a bicycle, something so simple as a bicycle and that bicycle gets stolen on the first day.
Neorealism - This wonderful Italian 1948 classic directed by Vittorio de Sica is an emotional depiction of degradation of the soul, loss of humanity and dignity. The film, one of the best in cinematic history, captures neorealism at its best.
Neorealism involves the use of location settings, non-actor roles, and conversational dialogue instead of literary dialogue, simple camerawork and editing. Neorealism offers a compassionate point of view with morality.
Here, we wish an innocent man with a family to support could find relief, satisfaction, comfort and justice. As for literary dialogue, there isn't anything great said here, it is simple conversation. No great special effects takes place, no shoot-um up bang bang, just plain old post-war Italy depicting real life, poverty, degradation and humanity. The VHS 50 year-old film is gritty and at times it is difficult to read the words.
Desperate - Antonio, a father and husband lands a job and on the first day posting movie billboard posters, the bicycle is stolen! Antonio frantically scours the streets and his little son Bruno tenderly tags along to recover the stolen bicycle. Now keep in mind that little Bruno is in the picture for one reason, and without him, we, the audience, would have a more callous attitude to the ending.
We see signs of post-war economic hard times, like the rows and rows of bicycle parts or hundreds of bedsheets that were pawned. The characters are non-actors in the real streets of Italy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple, but so touching Feb. 29 2012
By Steven Aldersley TOP 50 REVIEWER
The Bicycle Thief / Bicycle Thieves (1949)
Drama, Crime, 93 minutes, Italian Language
Directed by Vittorio De Sica
Starring Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola and Lianella Carell

This film shouldn't work. The story is so simple and the actors aren't professionals. But I kept hearing about the film and gave it a try when I found a copy at my local library. That proved to be one of my better decisions.

The story is set in post-war Rome. Jobs are scarce and people queue desperately each day for the chance to earn enough money to feed their families. Antonio Ricci (Maggiorani) accepts a job one morning, but one of the requirements is a bicycle. Although his has been pawned, he lies and says that he has one. His wife helps him pawn other items and he manages to get the bicycle back. That doesn't sound like much of an event, but it's a triumphant moment in the film.

Antonio is so happy to have the job hanging posters and the joy and relief is evident on his face. We feel happy for him. The problem is, someone steals his bicycle. By this point, we are fully invested in the story and the loss feels personal. We realize how important the bicycle is to his survival. The police don't seem interested so Antonio searches the streets with his son.

The film is ranked No. 85 in IMDBs Top 250 at the time or writing and not one of the films above it has fewer votes. It's a shame that it hasn't been seen by more people. I understand that it's over 60 years old, in black and white, and that the language is Italian, but the story is so pure that it's worth seeing. Let's hope for a Criterion Blu-ray release in the near future.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bicycle Thief,the Jan. 30 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed the movie,and the history within it. There was a tiny bit of skipping on the DVD. I love the story..
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4.0 out of 5 stars old classic Aug. 9 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A memorable classic on the misery of the poor, powerless and helpless, caught in a quagmire of despair, without having any real chance for escape. A heart wrenching work of art in black and white. Good acting, special noticeable performance by young boy. The script is perhaps a bit too predictable, the story may not have enough substance to carry the film for the full length. Some light in this darkness would have been a nice touch.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Film, Okay DVD April 12 2004
The Bicycle Thief: a very simple, straightforward story, told straight, no plot-twists or fancy story tricks like false endings, etc. This is a simple story: a man who's work requires him to use his own bicycle or lose his job has his bike stolen from him. The rest of the movie is his and his son's attempt to find the thief and get the bike back.
I understand the plot, but I find it just a little hard to imagine life being so harsh as to put a man out of work for having his bike stolen. I'm not saying it's unrealistic; I didn't live in Italy after WWII. But I found it a tad extreme to be honest. It's a great movie, but I don't think it hits its point home as sharply as Rossellini's "Rome Open City".
The DVD is ok - I agree with some reviewers that it could (and indeed should) be transferred at a higher bit-rate with less compression. This film truly derserves the Criterion Treatment if any Italian classic does! It is a better transfer than "Open City", but that's not an excuse. I agree it's time for a quality restoration with more extras and a nice commentary track.
But overall, this is a wonderful classic film full of heart and is a fine product worthy of inclusion in any tasteful home movie collection.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars 100 stars. Nothing Compares.
I've been holding off reviewing this film for a long time now. I can't put it into words. I get too scared that I might do it injustice by being pretentious and talkng out of my... Read more
Published on Aug. 24 2004 by Antonio Giusto
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic needs a re-release
Classic movie about the cruel nature of life, of inescapable fate. The dvd itself is pretty bad, with defects shown in the transfer, along with terrible audio. Read more
Published on Feb. 13 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this movie!
I had never heard of this movie when I stumbled on it late one night right before I went to bed. Instead of turning off the TV because it was late and I needed to go to work the... Read more
Published on May 5 2003 by Randall
2.0 out of 5 stars Muted Music Track
Image Entertainment has done an overall mediocre job on "The Bicycle Thief DVD." On the one hand, the video is excellent: crisp, sharp, a pleasure to behold. Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2003 by "haridam"
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movie, but...
It's a wonderful movie, but beware: on this DVD, the subtitles are not optional, they're always there, distorting the picture and getting on one's nerves...
Published on Oct. 30 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest Italian films ever!...
There can only be three things that can summarize this film, in my opinion. The expression of the human soul, the strength of love between father and son, and the life of poverty. Read more
Published on Sept. 15 2002 by Nessly
5.0 out of 5 stars painful
Widely regarded as one of the great films of all time, The Bicycle Thief is easy to avoid because even a brief recitation of the plot is so depressing. Read more
Published on April 1 2002 by Orrin C. Judd
5.0 out of 5 stars painful
Widely regarded as one of the great films of all time, The Bicycle Thief is easy to avoid because even a brief recitation of the plot is so depressing. Read more
Published on April 1 2002 by Orrin C. Judd
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