Saturday, February 6, 2010

#43 The Bicycle Thief - Easy come, easy go...

1948. dir. Vittorio De Sica, starring Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell. Italian with subtitles.

Seen it before? No.

Antonio Ricci gets a job putting up ads around the city but there's a catch...he must have a bicycle. His wife sacrifices her linens for a mere 7500lira. Ricci then affords the 6500lira to reclaim his bicycle from the worlds largest pawn shop. Everything goes well for the rest of the day and then he starts his job the next day. Of course his bicycle gets stolen by some twerp wearing a "German" cap. He reports it stolen and gets no assistance from the police. He does get assistance from a guy who looks like a garbage man - a friend...along with his son they search a market area to no avail. They go to another area where they see an old man dealing with a kid who looks so much like the kid who stole his bike. They harass the old man to no avail. So Ricci decides to take his son out for a meal and realizes that their future happiness rests on finding the bike. They go to the mystic and she says if they don't find the bike in the morning then they won't find it at all. He spots the kid again and accuses him of taking the bike. He gets accosted by the kids' neighbors who want to lynch him for defamation when no bike appears...And as a last ditch effort he steals a bicycle...

The title led me to watch so closely the first few minutes of the film after he reclaimed his bike since, obviously, his bicycle would get stolen right? I was so irritated when it did and he lost the pursuit. It was interesting that there would be such a place where bicycles are taken apart and re-sold that would be that large...I thought it was cute that his kid would help look for the bike. It was irritating that the police could really do nothing to help him without using a lot of manpower. The scene at the restaurant with the snotty kid eating, my god that was a snotty looking kid, and Ricci allowing his son Bruno to have half of the carafe of what I presume to be wine when he's maybe, what, 10?

None of this stuck with me as much as seeing the look on the faces of Maria and Ricci when he announced that he had indeed gotten a job. There was such hope and joy and an overwhelming feeling that all the sacrifices they had made up til the moment he got his job was worth what they had to go through. I feel like that still rings true today, especially in this economic time when people are struggling to find jobs and when even a small job makes a big difference in someone's life. I think Gary Ross said it best in 1993's Dave:
Dave: If you've ever seen the look on somebody's face the day they finally get a job, I've had some experience with this, they look like they could fly. And its not about the paycheck, it's about respect, it's about looking in the mirror and knowing that you've done something valuable with your day. And if one person could start to feel this way, and then another person, and then another person, soon all these other problems may not seem so impossible. You don't really know how much you can do until you, stand up and decide to try.

Would I watch it again? No, it made me sad.
Would I own it? No thanks.

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