Door 7: Bicycle Thieves
Best of lists and recommendations of films are countless. They can be based on genre, time or just personal taste. Regularly one sticks to friends or people that seem to have your taste. Today's entry is a recommendation of Martin Scorsese, who put the featured film, on a list of 39 foreign films, every young and aspiring filmmaker should know.
The film in question is the classic The Bicycle Thieves or in Italian Ladri di biciclette. The film was directed in 1948 by Vittorio De Sica and is considered a prime example of Italian neorealism. The genre was initiated by Roberto Rosselini's seminal film Rome, Open City and set out to show a more realistic side through films. This meant employing non-professionals actors and taking the camera out to real life settings to faithfully record the social realities of a Europe after the second world war.
In De Sica's case, that means that Rome, the city, is the backdrop of the story told, which is about a struggling father, played by Lamberto Maggiorani, a factory worker, and his son, Enzo Staiola. Having trouble finding a job, he needs a bike to get to work, they sell the families bedsheets to get one. On the first day of work, while receiving the first orders, his bike gets stolen and from then the story unravels.
What makes the film so ageless, is the close observation of society and its crystal clear and honest portrait. At the time of its release Italian critics rather discredited film for showing a bad side of the country and also neorealistic directors like Visconti critised it. Contrary to that internationally it was acclaimed from the beginning and even won Academy Honorary Award in 1950.