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Bicycle Thieves
Movie Poster for Carl Theodor Dreyer's Ordet
Directed by Vittorio De Sica
Produced by Giuseppe Amato
Vittorio De Sica
Written by Vittorio De Sica
Luigi Bartolini
Music by Alessandro Cicognini
Cinematography by Carlo Montuori
Editing by Eraldo Da Roma
Release Date 1948
Running Time
93 min.
Language Italian
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Bicycle Thieves
(Ladri di biciclette)

Bicycle Thieves is Vittorio de Sica's masterpiece of Italian neo-realism. The story centers on the dire conditions of the working poor in post World War II Italy. Antonio Ricci is a poor man who gets his job pasting posters up in thoroughfares in the streets of Rome simply because he owns a bicycle. On his first day on the job, Antonio's bike is stolen. Without his bicycle, he will lose his job. The rest of the film is taken up with the quest by Antonio and his son to recover his stolen bicycle.  

The film's spirit swirls around the desperation of the poor. The good man, Antonio, like Christ, is a poor man. Injustice occurs, but it is not cathartic. The main character has no tragic flaw other than being poor and desperate for work. So his story parallels that of the cross—a terrible injustice is done to an innocent man. Except in this instance, the harm done to the main character forces us to reflect on what we would do under similar conditions. The dilemma the film puts before is this: do we bear the cross like Jesus, or do we allow the circumstances to justify desperate decisions? 

—Michael Todd

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