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[IB Film] Bicycle Thieves: Critical Analysis

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Introduction

A glimpse into Italian Neo-Realism: Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette, 1948) Bicycle Thieves, directed by Vittorio de Sica, is a masterpiece representative of Italian Neo-Realism movement. Its magnificence as a rebel against the mainstream drew great critical attention and was received as revolutionary. With only a brief and realistic plot, the film is able to generate the sentiment and meaning that was believed to be only achievable through epics. Its depiction of humans and society coincide with the values of Italian Neo-realism. Italian Neo-realism is basically the ?dada of the film industry.? The movement dares to challenge every aspect of a normalized filmmaking formulae followed by many filmmakers under influence of Hollywood. U.S. films dominated the industry at the time, as its land as well as movie studios were the least damaged. ...read more.

Middle

The audience is introduced to the crude society full of social problems. The setting of the film is the reality; not less, not more. Nevertheless it is the most important to the story, without a doubt. Postwar Italy, with small money, smaller jobs and huge number of unemployed labor force, was a society of turmoil. Introduction of Capitalism had caused some to prosper, but with Italy?s disfigured economy it only meant someone on the other side of the street had to starve. Antonio, the hero of the film, is one of those people whose life depends on whether they get a job from the government or not. The beginning of the movie, as well as Antonio?s desperation to find his bicycle, could not have been possible if not for the realistic depiction of postwar Italian society of the mid-1900s. ...read more.

Conclusion

Because the audience, like Antonio, is not part of the Italian crowd portrayed, Antonio?s taint by the society emits rejection as well as sympathy. A morality play, indeed, the film then puts the converted Antonio on the verge of moral dilemma: ?to steal or not to steal.? His contemplation in front of the bicycle and his desperation that pushes him to commit crime before the eyes of his very son poses a striking image of social moral collapse. The film seems to blame the society, while not glorifying Antonio and his action. Bicycle Thieves? true value comes from its commitment to show the crude nature of the society. While not a documentary, the film captures the essence of postwar society, dysfunctional, disfigured and dismantled. The moral dilemma that Antonio is pushed upon shows how painful the society had become. But the film is not merely a propaganda against Capitalism; it still lets the audience decide, with its characteristic of an open ending. ...read more.

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