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Bicycle Thieves

4.6 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell, Gino Saltamerenda, Vittorio Antonucci
  • Directors: Vittorio De Sica
  • Writers: Adolfo Franci, Cesare Zavattini, Gerardo Guerrieri, Gherardo Gherardi, Luigi Bartolini
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Feb. 13 2007
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B000KRNGO0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #32,706 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

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.


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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: DVD
A classic of world cinema, "The Bicycle Thief" deals with postwar Italian circumstances with searing impact. Some of the elements may remind you of "It's A Wonderful Life," but let's just say: Frank Capra it ain't! This work is uncompromising, and, as famed playwright Arthur Miller put it, "remorseless." It's a wake-up call, effectively arguing that good, sound minded people can be morally destroyed by obsession and despondency; that what is of no consequence to many is vital to some. Don't jump into buying this movie on the opinions of those who love it; it's not for everyone's taste. Rent it first. If you're looking for "entertainment," look elsewhere. But if you value artistically fine movies that address harsh realities, you will be bowled over by this poignant, involving look into one man's snowballing desperation. This film is a friend for life if you appreciate it!
This DVD version of an important film is terrible. Image Entertainment usually makes good digital transfers, and this disc is no exception. But the cause of my gripe isn't the transfer, it's the print used. The copy that Image offers on this DVD is in DESPERATE need of restoration. There are all manner of imperfections in this print -- blotches, streaks, jumps (sometimes for several frames!), scratches, etc. This makes for a visual and audio shadow of a great movie. As if this weren't bad enough, the subtitles are poor. Too many words are left out in the translation, and the subtitles sometimes come late in relation to the dialogue. On the other side of the ledger, the English dub is excellently done (except for a brief section late in the film, seemingly due to the print).
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Format: DVD
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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