The Bicycle Thief Essay

This essay has a total of 785 words and 4 pages.

The Bicycle Thief

Another fine example of neorealism is The Bicycle Thief (1948), written by Cesare
Zavattini and directed by Vittorio De Sica. The narrative of this film unfolds in
post-W.W.II times. The film is a portrait of the post-war Italian disadvantaged class (the
majority) in their search for self-respect. It is a time of struggle for the Italian
people, amplified by a shortage of employment and lack of social services. In the first
scenes of the film, these conditions are evident as Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorami)
meets his spouse Maria (Lianalla Carell) on his way back home. We see the "men" arguing at
the employment "office" as the "women" argue about the shortage of water. Although the
director's pessimism drives the plot, it is ultimately the clash with human optimism which
gives this film affective power.

Antonio's new job can bring his family new hopes and happiness, which are drastically
destroyed when his bicycle is stolen. The banal circumstances are brought to life when it
is realized that a modest bicycle is such an important element in determining the future
survival of the Ricci family. Human optimism is there, beginning with Antonio's excitement
when he gets his bike from the pawn shop, and the next morning when the family joyfully
interacts before setting out for work. These scenes contain the promises that a modest job
can bring and the dignity and pride of being able to once more function within Italian
society. The embodiment of this self-respect is shown when Antonio and his son Bruno (Enzo
Staicca) both smile at Maria as they leave home.

Self-respect and all the related values such as pride, dignity, modesty and honor are very
important in Italian society. Witness Bruno, whom at a young age, works full time at a gas
station. Bruno's contributions to the Ricci family make him a "man" and strip him of his
innocence. Being able to work is an optimistic endeavor which Bruno wholeheartedly engages


The tragedy is not Antonio's previous two years of unemployment- it is that he has no
future in his new job, due to the theft of his bike. Antonio must face this tragedy with
no public support other than his friend Baiocco. Baiocco's willingness to help with his
friends and his optimistic response to Maria constitute another case of human optimism.
This form of optimism pervades the film with Antonio's perseverance and determination to
find the stolen bike. These events stimulate the viewer's mind to think of solutions
related to Antonio's situation, perhaps to try to solve problems of post-war Italy such as
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