Bicycle Thief Paper
The Bicycle Thief is a deeply moving neo-realist study of post-War in Italy which depicts a man's loss of his faith and his struggle to maintain his personal dignity in poverty and bureaucratic indifference. Antonio Ricci is a person who posts bills and advertisements whose bicycle is essential for his job and is then stolen by a thief. Joined by his son Bruno, Antonio eagerly searches for his bike, eventually resorting to the humiliation of theft himself.
Throughout this paper, I will attempt to follow the character through The Bicycle Thief. The film opens with a montage of early morning urban activities ending on a crowd of unemployed laborers loudly crowding around for work. Sitting to the side is Antonio Ricci. Beaten down by despair, he has lost his energy to fight. His spirits are lifted, however, when his name is called out for a job. Invigorated, he damns poverty. His joy however, is fleeting, employment depends on one condition, and that is that he needs to own a bicycle. To provide for his family, Antonio long ago pawned his bicycle and now, in one day, he raises the price of the pawn ticket. Not knowing where he will get the money, he turns to his wife Maria. In thier desolate home, the only thing left to pawn is a remnant of her assets and the family's last remainder of comfort, the bed sheets. Bravely, Maria strips the bed and begins to wash the linens. At the pawnshop, it becomes evident that the Ricci's misery is not unique. Their sheets are added to a mountain of small white bundles, and Antonio reclaims his bicycle from the rack of hundreds just like it. Delighted by the prospect of a good fortune, the couple happily rides away. Antonio picks up his instructions for the following morning and Maria stops by to see Signora Santona, a agent who predicted that Antonio would find a job. He gently scolds his wife for her superstitions, but Maria holds firm to her belief in the woman's psychic ability. In a series intermittent domestic scenes, Antonio is portrayed as a loving husband and an understanding father. His warmth belies the stereotypically macho Latin male. He helps his wife carry heavy buckets of water and engages his young son Bruno as a reliable helper, and trusted him with the preparation of his cherished bicycle for the first day's work. Hired as a billposter, Antonio was required to affix looming images of Rita Hayworth to the gray and ancient walls of Rome; ironically, he accompanies Hollywood's glamorous world vision to the harsh realties of post-War Europe. While Antonio struggles to smooth out the lumps under the advertisement, a thief slips up behind him and steals his bicycle. Antonio chases him and then loses him in the rush of the mid-morning traffic. This begins an unrelenting three day search for his stolen bicycle. Accompanied by Bruno, Antonio combs Rome to recover his property, which has come to represent both his livelihood and any hope for a prosperous future. The police are of no help; they cannot be bothered with such a trivial case. Enlisting friends, Antonio and his son search the open air markets where stolen goods are dismantled and sold, for a trace of evidence. In a masterful montage of human faces and bicycle parts -- frames, tires, seats, horns, and so on, De Sica contrasts the world's apparent abundance with Antonio's desperate need. The camera takes Antonio's point of view, panning right to left, it seeks hopelessly for what is like a needle in a haystack. While waiting for a storm to clear Antonio spots the thief talking with an old man. Again, he chases but loses the thief again, and follows the old man into a church, which is offering food and a shave to those who would like those services. Commenting on the role of the Catholic Church in post-War Italy, De Sica interrupts the mass with Antonio's questioning of the old man. As the congregation prays, that their souls be purified and their spirits soothed on their paths of sorrow and...
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