A beautiful, simple story of a man in post-war Rome who needs his bicycle in order to work at his job. No sooner does he retrieve it from pawn, then it is stolen. The heartwrenching search teaches the man and his son much ... more »about the meaning of life and just how far we will go when pushed to the edge. Winner of a special Academy Award.« less
"I first saw this movie as a student decades ago, and now seeing it all these years later on DVD, I'm amazed how well it holds up. It's a lesson in what can be done on the screen with so little; there's no budget here, largely amateur actors and a very simple plot. It's about an unemployed man, who gets a job offer that requires a bike, the sacrifice his family must make to get his bike out of hock, and what happens when the bike is stolen on the job. It's successful because I think the writers and director focus on some universal truths--about human nature, love, pride, survival and--yes--family values. It's disheartening to read some reviews that say: "I was bored," "It wasn't entertaining enough," or "Enough with the black & white." It's also disheartening to see reviews from people with no concept of this film's historical context. The poverty of post-WWII Europe produced a revolution in cinema, and this movie was one that redefined the medium's possibilities. I can't imagine someone not being moved by the dilemma faced by the lead character in this film. I do regret that this movie has not gotten a full "Criterion Collection" restoration, and I would have liked more "extras" on the DVD--like background information on the time the director and the Italian neo-realist movement. BTW, the more accurate translation of the Italian title is "Bicycle Thieves," which (after you see the movie) you must agree is more appropriate."
Thief of hearts
Eddy Oquendo | New York, New York USA | 06/01/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A classic of world cinema, "The Bicycle Thief" deals with postwar Italian circumstances with searing impact. Some of the elements may remind you of "It's A Wonderful Life," but let's just say: Frank Capra it ain't! This work is uncompromising, and, as famed playwright Arthur Miller put it, "remorseless." It's a wake-up call, effectively arguing that good, sound minded people can be morally destroyed by obsession and despondency; that what is of no consequence to many is vital to some. Don't jump into buying this movie on the opinions of those who love it; it's not for everyone's taste. Rent it first. If you're looking for "entertainment," look elsewhere. But if you value artistically fine movies that address harsh realities, you will be bowled over by this poignant, involving look into one man's snowballing desperation. This film is a friend for life if you appreciate it!This DVD version of an important film is terrible. Image Entertainment usually makes good digital transfers, and this disc is no exception. But the cause of my gripe isn't the transfer, it's the print used. The copy that Image offers on this DVD is in DESPERATE need of restoration. There are all manner of imperfections in this print -- blotches, streaks, jumps (sometimes for several frames!), scratches, etc. This makes for a visual and audio shadow of a great movie. As if this weren't bad enough, the subtitles are poor. Too many words are left out in the translation, and the subtitles sometimes come late in relation to the dialogue. On the other side of the ledger, the English dub is excellently done (except for a brief section late in the film, seemingly due to the print). The voices are expertly in sync with the lip movement, and dramatic consistency is achieved by what appear to be Italian actors. Since there are no special features to speak of on the DVD, I'll share some facts about this film that aren't included on the disc. David O. Selznick (producer of "Gone With The Wind") is reported to have offered backing to "The Bicycle Thief," on condition that Carey Grant play the father. The star, Lamberto Maggiorani, was actually a steel factory worker. When he was done with the film, he went back to work at the factory. There he became somewhat unpopular with his co-workers, who were apparently envious of his newfound fame and fortune. Soon thereafter, he found himself unemployed. The little boy, played by Enzo Staiola, was discovered in a crowd watching work on the movie."
There's a cure for everything ... except death
Nathan Andersen | Florida | 02/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"(This review is for the Criterion Collection release of this dvd -- not for the Image Entertainment release that many other reviews here refer to.)
"Bicycle Thieves" (as it is wisely retranslated from the Italian for this new Criterion release) is one of the few "perfect films" -- by which I mean a film that is in its own way just as it should be, lacking nothing, the kind of film where even apparent missteps tend to contribute indelibly to the overall impression of a film in which nothing could have been changed without damaging the film. Take, for example, the scenario that instead of an unknown day laborer in the role of Antonio, de Sica had gone with David Selznick's suggestion of Cary Grant (which was a condition for the film getting funded through American studios). I have no doubt that this would have remained an interesting film, and that Grant would have done an admirable job -- but it would have been a totally different film and would have lost the fragility and vulnerability and delicacy (combined with hardness and objectivity) that make this film so precious. We can all be grateful that De Sica chose to wait for an Italian investor who allowed him to make the film the way he and Zappatini had planned.
Without giving away anything of the plot, I will say that the conclusion of the film is one of the most powerful I have seen -- and carries an emotional weight that is earned rather than manipulated, and that can be compared only to a very few films: Chaplin's City Lights and Kiarostami's Close-up are the only films that come to mind. De Sica strikes a very delicate balance between realistic depiction of the harsh realities of life in postwar Rome, and a humanistic vison of the resourcefulness of individuals in the face of hopelessness and the enduring power of empathy, forgiveness, and love.
The film looks better than ever on this new Criterion edition -- it seemed to me that a few shots were a bit washed out but I can only assume that is due to the condition of the available negatives. Spots and dust and other imperfections seem to have been removed entirely, and the subtitles are quite good and easy to read. The film alone would make this set an essential one, but the booklet (containing some excellent essays, including a very illuminating essay by Andre Bazin) and attached documentaries (one on neorealsm, one on screenwriter Zappatini, and one on De Sica) make this set as a whole like a master course on one of the undisputed masterpieces of cinema."
100 stars. Nothing Compares.
Antonio Giusto | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 08/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been holding off reviewing this film for a long time now. I can't put it into words. I get too scared that I might do it injustice by being pretentious and talkng out of my ass. So I'll just sort of kiss this films ass instead cause if it had an ass it would probably smell like roses. This is the greatest movie ever made. In my opinion Cinema went downhill after this film cause nothing ever made after this can compare. I pray that there is one day a DVD re-release of this film that does it justice as so many of you have pointed out. Criterion, where the hell are you? The money you spent on crap like "The Rock" or "Armageddon" could have been spent here. I have never seen a film with so much raw emotion. Watching this film for me is like an emotional rollercoaster. I must have watched this at least 100 times. This film never fades and has the power to change the lives of those who watch it. It's one of my missions in life to get people to watch this film. Every person I have shown this film to has thanked me. Anybody who disagrees with me can meet me in the Amazon parking lot. Bring friends. Interesting note: Sergio Leone (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly) was assistant director on this film. Though he is uncredited for his work."
Excellent Version of Classic Movie
Eddy Oquendo | 03/22/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A beautiful, humanistic portrayal of poverty and desperation as well as one of the most evocative documents of post-WWII European life. The sound and visual quality on the DVD are better than any other version I've seen and yet the film doesn't look "glitzed up" - no Dolby sound, no digital airbrushing - so it retains its common touch. The story simply concerns a man who's lost a bicycle that he desperately needs for his jobs and his day-long attempt to find it. Within this simple narrative framework, the director, Vittorio de Sica, and his writer, Cesare Zattavini, unfold Roman society as it existed just after the defeat of fascism - squalid, predatory, and cutthroat. De Sica astutely prevents the film from becoming maudlin through the toughness of his approach - the laborer's search for his bicycle focuses the film and seals off any intrusive melodrama. The ending, where the father shamefully faces his son after he's caught stealing a bicycle, is one of the cinema's most heartbreaking finales - right up there with Chaplin's "City Lights".Although its status has diminished somewhat in some circles - by those who see it as a well-intentioned but programmatic Marxist fable - "The Bicycle Thief" remains, for me, a masterpiece and one of the most compassionate portrayals of poverty ever put on film. It would make an interesting double-bill with Bunuel's contemporary "Los Olivados" (1950), his pitiless masterpiece on those left out of the postwar good times. I can hardly wait for that film, as well as de Sica's "Shoeshine", to come out on DVD as well."