Thursday, June 7, 2007
The Bicycle Thief
WORTH-IT: (De Sica) This 1949 Italian black and white story about a destitute man and his young son searching the city for his stolen bicycle is long, slow, and depressing. There are no high points, there is no great saving love story, there is no moral, really. BUT, this film has a certain spark that kept my interest entirely, and proved magnificent for its age and time. One of the first to experiment with Neorealism, The Bicycle Thief depicts a man at his end, struggling to survive and support his family. As the story drags on, we begin to see we're watching the downfall of a man, through his own perspective and through the eyes of his son. We see him forget his own moral, and slowly identify among the lowlifes he once despised. His search ends, as does the film, as he blends into the crowd of downtrodden poverty, walking home, a face lost in the crowd with a hardship left unsolved and deemed unimportant. The acting by the main man and the boy playing his young son is extraordinary and convincing. The scenery is drab, dark, and dirty. The music is dramatic and depressing. But, for a movie that wishes to leave nothing untouched in the picture of suffering post-war Rome, all these elements work masterfully together. And for such an early film, work well beyond its time. If you can accept that the film is slow (think Pursuit of Happyness) and depressing, and allow its monotone to touch you rather than bore you, you will witness a fabulous illustration of struggle and self-realization that reaches through black and white and into a color of emotion.