Wednesday, March 04, 2009

‘Bicycle Thieves’: Steals the hearts of the viewers

-By Swetha Amit

A fabulous line stating it as one of the best films ever made behind the DVD cover arouses enough curiosity in one to pick it up and watch it immediately. It makes one wonder what exactly about the film makes it earn that line along with a flamboyant description as a timeless master piece that even inspired Satyajit Ray. Technological advancement certainly wasn’t like what it is today. Neither does the film carry its special effects that lead to bated breaths amongst the audience creating a new list of ardent followers. And yet the duration of 93 minutes nowhere disappoints as they lean back on the couch ruminating about the thought provoking narration they had just watched.

It is set in the era of depression post the World War-II in Italy where unemployment was at its peak. The story is about one such unemployed worker Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani
) who must possess a bicycle in order to attain a job. In order to purchase one, his wife sells the curtains and manages to draw enough money to do so. It was indeed considered a treasure as one without a bicycle remained unemployed which resulted in further poverty. However on the first day of work, a dismayed Antonio manages see his ‘treasure’ whisked away by a petty bicycle thief.

It results in Antonio and his son Bruno (
Enzo Staiola) on a vigorous search for the miscreant across the streets of Rome. Far and wide, they crusade finally tracking down the thief only to find it go in vain. Frustration and desperation creeps inside Antonio as he indulges in an act which depicts irony to a large extent.

‘Bicycle thieves’ is based on a novel by Luigi Batolini which was adapted for screenplay by Cesare Zavattini and released in 1948. The USP lies in its simplicity of the story line and a few poignant moments that touches the emotional chord of the audience. Not to mention the stirring performances by the lead actors. Language proves to be no barrier as the Italian film provides its sub titles. Brilliantly directed by Vittorio De Sica, a few moments of the narrative provides a thought provoking message that one can indeed learn a lesson or two from it.

During the search for his treasure, Antonio failed to see the real one right under his nose in the form of his son which he realizes only in the end. Secondly, the last act proved to be contradictory to his otherwise honest persona which was prodded by extreme desperation border lined by the element of greed. He committed that very act which spelt dishonesty and cheating eventually falling in his own eyes. Turning into a bicycle thief himself he began to understand that while trying to grab one treasure to maintain his image in his son’s eyes, he lost his wealth of integrity making him shame faced in front of his ‘little jewel’.

The ironical ending depicts the reality of circumstances where an individual is forced to turn into something he/she otherwise despises only to prove something to others. What they fail to realize is that in the long run, their goodness and simplicity is what would eventually earn respect more than their substantial earnings. Injustice angers one enough to resort to revenge that could turn them into criminals whom they would otherwise chase after fiercely with inept scorn.

‘Bicycle thieves’ teaches one that nothing is worth giving up the real treasure that is imbibed in an individual and falling in the eyes of their kith and kin. The very element of simplicity in the story bowled over millions enough to earn accolades and awards. Possessing such a remarkable trait would prove to be a winner in the long run. It also makes one understand that while we all resort to desperate measures in pursuing treasure far and wide, at times that very gem lies in front of our own eyes which fails to catch our blinded perception. A must watch for those who can manage to get hold of this ingenious world cinema that is worthy of its generous reviews.
Written for



Blogger Whirlwind said...

Comments on MSN:

Venkat - Dar on 3/4/2009 2:56:18 PM
Dear Swetha, Very well pictured!

Bobby Sakariah - Jeddah on 3/4/2009 3:09:06 PM
Nicely written. Will watch it by any chance.

2:24 AM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

amit vyas - chandigarh on 3/4/2009 7:16:41 PM
Yes i have seen that movie. since it was in italian, i had to download its subtitles and finally i managed to see it with english subtitles. its really worth seeing. i am glad to know that there are people like you who appreciate such movies.

5:56 AM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

Comment via email:

Hi Swetha,
comment on bicycle thief:

A nice review with a wonderful message. Thanks Swetha.


5:57 AM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

Dr S J Prasad - Bangalore on 3/4/2009 11:46:45 PM
I distinctly remember 'Bicycle thief'. I was about ten after the WW2. The article has made me to recal;l my past memories. The picture was screened at Royal Cinema hall at Bellary.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

ANIMESH BANERJEE - MUMBAI on 3/5/2009 11:58:29 AM
First of all I want to convey my regards to MS. Swetha Amit for writing an article on such a great film. It will not be irrevelant to mention here that this was the movie which caused to produce one of the world,s greatest film directors directors of all time , who is nobody else but our Satyajit Ray . The fact is that satyajit ray was an commercial artist and had been working in an British advertising agency in Kolkata ,in those days. He was sent to London for training by his employer , where he watched the film. After watching the fim , He realised the potential of the film medium and decided to be a fim-maker. After returning to Kolkata , he left the job and started making the fim - "" Pather Panchali "' and the rest is history now.

4:08 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home