The Unspoken Allure of Communism
Bicycle Thieves is an exemplary demonstration of Italian neorealism that seeks to use non-professional actors to illustrate the struggle of average people surviving under a Fascist government. De Sica's use of film techniques such as close-ups heightens the effect of his neo-realist aesthetic, especially seen in his street-level depictions of Rome in the aftermath of World War II. The poverty and despair captured by De Sica's cinematography and narrative choices illustrates that capitalism has failed the Italian people, providing them only with grinding poverty and inward despair. By focusing on the mundane details of a simple man's life, rather than a narrative involving high drama, the film effectively captures the humiliating effects of class disparity while highlighting the role that communism could play in the improvement of life for the Italian people, if only a sense of community could be established.
Director Vittorio De Sica uses Bicycle Thieves as a vehicle in which to stress the burdens faced by the individual in a heartless and uncaring society. He has stated that his aesthetic intention with the film was to "reintroduce the dramatic into quotidian situations, the marvellous in a little news item [...] considered by most people throwaway material" (Cheshire), and so too is his main character, Antonio, a throwaway person. As an unemployed person, he has no value to the larger society and no apparent worth to his family as a provider. It is only once he secures a position as a poster-hanger that he begins to see himself as a productive member of society. De Sica illustrates the importance of this job by demonstrating Antonio's increasing desperation when his bicycle--an item he cannot do his job without--is stolen. His neorealistic style stems more from moral imperative than from necessity because, as critic Godfrey Cheshire notes in "Bicycle Thieves: A Passionate Commitment to the...
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