Drew Recommends: The Bicycle Thieves

Directed by Vittorio De Sica, “The Bicycle Thieves” is a 1948 Italian film that deals with the struggles of a poor father, who was the victim of a bike robbery, losing his only form of transportation that allowed him to keep his job. The film is among the top 50 greatest films made, recorded by the British Film Institute as number 33, and won the Academy Award for ‘Best Foreign Film’ in 1950.


The film marked the beginning of De Sica’s artistry as a director. De Sica became a big name for Italian Neorealism, an era “The Bicycle Thieves” was styled in. Italian Neorealism was a revolutionary style of filmmaking that dealt with the poverty-stricken society of Italy after the Second World War. Neorealist films tended to be very low-budget and independent. Often amatuer and unproffesional actors would be paid and the filming would be on location rather than on a set.


This is very apparent in “The Bicycle Thieves,” as crowds of people stood by and took up the streets of Italy, their expressions to the action seeming natural and unscripted. It is an interesting watch because of this and illustrates the organic lifestyle and culture of Italy like that of no Hollywood production. This naturality behind the production brings the viewer into the story and will leave “The Bicycle Thieves” as a timeless work of art for all to come back to when interested in the true style of life and story in post-war Italy and in need for moral reassurance.


The film itself is very linear, going from point A to point B with little-to-no time lapse in between. The majority of the film focuses upon the situation at hand, rather than focusing upon events from before the robbery. Thus, the film brings to attention the levity of the father’s financial and emotional troubles right away. Throughout the film, the father and son’s psychology become more and more apparent, making this one of the saddest films to date.


The pure artistic prose of this film, as it is the most famous of all neorealist films, is that it came solely from the heart of director De Sica, as he found himself victim to the financial troubles of his home country. This personal, emotional aim in film has been used often in Europe as a product of national struggles. This is evident in the films of Hungarian director Belá Tarr, whose works were all meant to be dreary and depressing in style of the emotional toll his home country, Hungary, when the financial troubles shook the lives of all living after the Hungarian Revolt.


With this emotional connection to such films, no matter the quality of cinematography, significance of the camera angles or lighting of the environment, the film is bound to have the director’s subtextual themes and emotional bearings expressed onto the audience, impacting them and opening their eyes to the situations that are product of historical and social misdoings. It is these films that matter the most to audiences in search for cultural awareness and a message to occupy their desire to find reassurance of their comfortable living, and “The Bicycle Thieves” is no exception to that.