Bicycle Thief Paper The Bicycle Thief is a deeply moving neo-realist study of post-War in Italy which depicts a man’s loss of his faith and his struggle to maintain his personal dignity in poverty and bureaucratic indifference. Antonio Ricci is a person who posts bills and advertisements whose bicycle is essential for his job and is then stolen by a thief. Joined by his son Bruno, Antonio eagerly searches for his bike, eventually resorting to the humiliation of theft himself. Throughout this paper, I will attempt to follow the character through The Bicycle Thief.
The film opens with a montage of early morning urban activities ending on a crowd of unemployed laborers loudly crowding around for work. Sitting to the side is Antonio Ricci. Beaten down by despair, he has lost his energy to fight. His spirits are lifted, however, when his name is called out for a job. Invigorated, he damns poverty. His joy however, is fleeting, employment depends on one condition, and that is that he needs to own a bicycle. To provide for his family, Antonio long ago pawned his bicycle and now, in one day, he raises the price of the pawn ticket.
Not knowing where he will get the money, he turns to his wife Maria. In thier desolate home, the only thing left to pawn is a remnant of her assets and the family’s last remainder of comfort, the bed sheets. Bravely, Maria strips the bed and begins to wash the linens. At the pawnshop, it becomes evident that the Ricci’s misery is not unique. Their sheets are added to a mountain of small white bundles, and Antonio reclaims his bicycle from the rack of hundreds just like it. Delighted by the prospect of a good fortune, the couple happily rides away.
Antonio picks up his instructions for the following morning and Maria stops by to see Signora Santona, a agent who predicted that Antonio would find a job. He gently scolds his wife for her superstitions, but Maria holds firm to her belief in the woman’s psychic ability. In a series intermittent domestic scenes, Antonio is portrayed as a loving husband and an understanding father. His warmth belies the stereotypically macho Latin male. He helps his wife carry heavy buckets of water and engages his young son Bruno as a reliable helper, and trusted him with the preparation of his cherished bicycle for the first day’s work.
Hired as a billposter, Antonio was required to affix looming images of Rita Hayworth to the gray and ancient walls of Rome; ironically, he accompanies Hollywood’s glamorous world vision to the harsh realties of post-War Europe. While Antonio struggles to smooth out the lumps under the advertisement, a thief slips up behind him and steals his bicycle. Antonio chases him and then loses him in the rush of the mid-morning traffic. This begins an unrelenting three day search for his stolen bicycle. Accompanied by Bruno, Antonio combs Rome to recover his property, which has come to represent both his livelihood and any hope for a prosperous future.
The police are of no help; they cannot be bothered with such a trivial case. Enlisting friends, Antonio and his son search the open air markets where stolen goods are dismantled and sold, for a trace of evidence. In a masterful montage of human faces and bicycle parts — frames, tires, seats, horns, and so on, De Sica contrasts the world’s apparent abundance with Antonio’s desperate need. The camera takes Antonio’s point of view, panning right to left, it seeks hopelessly for what is like a needle in a haystack. While waiting for a storm to clear Antonio spots the thief talking with an old man.
Again, he chases but loses the thief again, and follows the old man into a church, which is offering food and a shave to those who would like those services. Commenting on the role of the Catholic Church in post-War Italy, De Sica interrupts the mass with Antonio’s questioning of the old man. As the congregation prays, that their souls be purified and their spirits soothed on their paths of sorrow and hardship, Antonio demands for the criminal’s address. The old man is oblivious to both and only wants to know what he will be given to eat.
De Sica’s evaluation of the Catholic Church is clear. In a world in which the recovery of a bicycle stands between prosperity and starvation, a priest’s promise of heaven has lost his power to comfort the poor. Sanctuaries have become soup kitchens, where well dressed women herd the congregation like sheep, and lawyers serve as barbers and leads the series of prayers. While the commoners must seduce the power to Mass, Roman women line up to spend their last lira on a psychic. When Antonio losses hope, admitting that even the saints cannot help him, he too turns to Signora Santona.
Hungry for a brighter future, her clients come to her as they once did to the church, confessing their problems. She in turn, provides them with metaphoric and cryptic answers. She tells Antonio that he will either find the bicycle now or not at all. She sounds like a charlatan but when Antonio and Bruno step into the street, the thief miraculously appears andthe chase is on again. The criminal turns out to be a pathetic epileptic, and just as destitute as Antonio. The police can offer no help without witnesses and som evidence, so Antonio surrenders his fight without pressing charges.
Hopeless, Antonio and Bruno wander aimlessly through the city streets, finally resting outside a soccer stadium. Hundreds of bicycles are parked outside. The crowd pours out, and Antonio is mesmerized by the sounds and sights of the cyclists riding by. In desperation, he dashes to steal a lone bicycle. He is immediately caught, threatened by his captors and humiliated in front of Bruno, compassionately, the owner allows Antonio to go without pressing charges. In tears rolling down his face, father and son are swallowed by the crowd walking silently into an uncertain future.
I am aware that there has been a lot of complex criticism regarding this film, and much of it has been of diverse nature. For one thing, De Sica exposes a variety of psychological and emotional losses, for example, the simple story of a stolen bicycle. At the same time, as Antonio meets frustration at every turn, he loses his confidence and his self respect and feels completely isolated. In the next major move of the film, he is quick to attempt to steal someone else’s bicycle. Humiliation is his only reward. At the same time, there is yet another facet of this film which has to do with father and son relationships.
It is actually the emotional center, and in my view the one around which the entire story is told. De Sica has said that his primary intent was poetic rather than political, and the film has been praised as anti-Facist and pro-Solidarity. Indeed, the harsh realism of this backdrop reveals the results of years of war and impoverished living. In view, the Bicycle Thief has much to do with a clashing of cultures. There are transcending messages such as politics and social decay which appear in this movie, but are not necessarily the immediate intent of this film.
At the same time, it could also be argued that poverty is a central theme, because one man (and his entire family) depend upon the ownership of a single bicycle, one which he is not able to get after it had been stolen from him. In emphasizing the need to honor the individuality of each culture, one Satyagig Ray saw no reason for closing the doors to the outside world in his films/community. Indeed, opening doors was an important priority of Ray’s work. In this respect, Ray’s attitude can contrast sharply with the increasing tendency to see his own culture (India) or other cultures, such as European, Spanish, Asian, etc. in highly conservative terms, for purposes of preserving them from the pollution of western ideas and thought. He was also willing to enjoy and to learn from ideas, art forms and styles of life from anywhere, in India or abroad. This perception contrasts sharply with the tendency of many communitarians, religious and secular, who are willing to break up the nation into communities and then stop dead there: Thus far and no further. The great film maker’s eagerness to seek the larger unit, to talk to the whole world, went well with his enthusiasm for understanding the smallest of the small.
For example, the individuality, ultimately, of each person. Bicycle Thieves is about Ricci’s emasculation—not literal, not even economic, but his symbolic emasculation in the eyes of his son, his loss of moral authority. De Sica pits market capitalism against the well-being of the traditional Italian family, and makes his protagonist’s soul the battleground. In one of the movie’s many small but touching moments, Ricci, having failed to catch the crook who rode off on his bike, returns to the placard he was hanging when the crime occurred and finishes gluing it in place.
De Sica’s message is clear: Ricci is exceedingly decent and honorable. Watching him struggle to provide his wife (a loyal and supportive woman) and children with the barest of life’s necessities is heartbreaking. As Ricci and Bruno set out to recover the stolen bicycle, we’re as overwhelmed as they are by the longshot odds of finding a particular bicycle in a Roman metropolis teeming with postwar blackmarket crime In closing, The film tells the story of Antonio Ricci, an unemployed worker who gets a job posting flyers in the depressed post-World War II economy of Italy.
To keep the job, he must have a bicycle, so his wife Maria sells her wedding sheets to get the money to get his bicycle from the pawnshop. Early in the film, the bike is stolen, and Antonio and his son Bruno spend the remainder of the film searching for it. Antonio manages to locate the thief (who had already sold the bicycle) and summons the police, but with no proof and with the thief’s neighbors willing to give him a false alibi, he abandons this cause. At the end of the film Antonio, desperate to keep his job, attempts to steal a bicycle himself.
He is caught and humiliated in front of Bruno, but the owner of the bicycle declines to press charges, realizing that the humiliation is punishment enough. Antonio and his family face a bleak future as the film ends, coupled with Antonio’s realization that he is not morally superior to the thief. Works Cited: http://www. bookrags. com/wiki/Bicycle_Thieves http://www. dvdverdict. com/reviews/bicyclethieves. php Mamartya, The Bicycle Thief; Ladri Di Bicilette, McGill’s Survey of Cinema, 15 June 1995