Ladri di Biciclette

Ladri di Biciclette (Bycicle Thieves) *****

Director: Vittorio De Sica.Cast: Lamberto MaggioraniEnzo StaiolaLianella Carell

Routinely voted one of the greatest films of all time by pretty much everyone, revered by modern directors (from Martin Scorsese to Woody Allen, from Steve Spielberg to Ken Loach) Bicycle thieves (the plural is key) is clearly one of the foundation stones of Italian neorealism (after Rome Open City) and, beyond that, a landmark in movie history. The use of available light, non professional actors and real locations may seem normal today, but at the time telling stories so far away from the conventions of Hollywood was basically revolutionary.And amazingly, especially for such a simple story (this could almost be the subject of a short film), the power of Ladri di biciclette is still palpable today. The tension in the film is more subtle than in Rossellini’S open city. Here there no war or Nazi to be afraid of. Instead the angst comes from the dehumanisation of the main character as the precariousness of his life leaves us desperately rooting for him. It’s a slow build towards the heart wrenching finale (still more subtle than ‘Open City’: no executions here), where I challenge anyone not to be moved by Bruno reaction to what’s happening to his dad.Possibly some of the best child acting you’ll ever see.The film was awarded a special Oscar in 1946 and basically paved the way for the best foreign film award. Just one of the many contributions to cinema from De Sica’s masterpiece.Routinely voted one of the greatest films of all time by pretty much everyone, revered by modern directors (from Martin Scorsese to Woody Allen, from Steve Spielberg to Ken Loach) Bicycle thieves (the plural is key) is clearly one of the foundation stones of Italian neorealism (after Rome Open City) and, beyond that, a landmark in movie history.The use of available light, non-professional actors and real locations may seem normal today, but at the time telling stories so far away from the conventions of Hollywood was basically revolutionary.And amazingly, especially for such a simple story (this could almost be the subject of a short film), the power of Ladri di biciclette is still palpable today.The tension in the film is more subtle than in Rossellini’s open city. Here there no war or Nazi to be afraid of. Instead the angst comes from the dehumanisation of the main character as the precariousness of his life leaves us desperately rooting for him. It’s a slow build towards the heart wrenching finale (still more subtle than ‘Open City’: no executions here), where I challenge anyone not to be moved by Bruno reaction to what’s happening to his dad.Possibly some of the best child acting you’ll ever see.The film was awarded a special Oscar in 1946 and basically paved the way for the best foreign film award. Just one of the many contributions to cinema from De Sica’s masterpiece.

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