IMDB Top 250 Challenge – Movie #17 – Bicycle Thieves (Review)

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Bicycle Thieves (Italian: Ladri di biciclette) (1948) – IMDB Rank #91

Watched 5/6/13

Directed by Vittorio De Sica

Lamberto Maggiorani
Enzo Staiola
Lianella Carell
Vittorio Antonucci

Language: Italian

Running time: 93 minutes

Plot Synopsis (via Wikipedia):

The story of a poor father searching post-World War II Rome for his stolen bicycle, without which he will lose the job which was to be the salvation of his young family.

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My Opinion:

This was the 17th movie I watched this year for my IMDB Top 250 Challenge. It’s interesting doing this – I know it’ll force me to finally watch some classics that I’m sure will end up being all-time favorites of mine. This has happened with things like the Charlie Chaplin films I’ve watched and some Studio Ghibli films and probably The Bridge On The River Kwai, which I watched a couple weeks ago. (That was brilliant! Who knew?! Lol.).

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I’ve also hated a couple so far and feel they have no place in a list of the Top 250 films of all-time (Slumdog Millionaire & Mary And Max) as well as thinking too many current films that are only average are ending up in the Top 250 simply because they’re recent & getting lots of votes (Life Of Pi). Bicycle Thieves falls into the following category for me: Certainly a worthy classic that deserves a place in the 250 but one that won’t end up on my personal all-time favorites list.

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I’m going to keep this “review” short. I feel I should say something about it since I’m trying to review all the Top 250 as I watch them but I’m not sure what to say this time. I’m falling way behind on reviews in general as this “writing” thing doesn’t come naturally to me (and I’m rubbish at it!).

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Bicycle Thieves is a wonderful film full of hope, heartbreak, and the lovely city of Rome. We watch the father go from being full of hope when he finally gets a desperately needed job to being full of panic & despair when his bicycle is stolen on the first day of his job (pasting advertising posters around the city, a job which requires the employee to own his own bicycle). Helped at first by a couple friends and the man’s young son, we watch as the man and son continue searching all of Rome for the stolen bicycle while the father’s joy about his new job is destroyed and his hope of finding the bicycle is slowly shattered, threatening to leave him a broken man. Don’t worry – I try to stay spoiler-free in my reviews so you’ll have to watch it to see if he finds the bicycle. Either way, I found the man’s journey through this film absolutely heartbreaking and a little hard to watch.

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This isn’t the reason this won’t end up an all-time favorite of mine, though. I think I just couldn’t quite connect with the father for whatever reason. The actor did a fine job and you really could feel for his character and I could understand the emotion that would be involved in needing to provide for his family but knowing he may not now be able to thanks to the actions of the bicycle thief. I think it’s just of a different era that’s somewhat hard for us to relate to now and I sometimes didn’t understand or necessarily agree with some of the dad’s actions. The highlight of this film, though, is the man’s son. He’s so sweet and remains so hopeful of finding the bicycle even while the father is slowly broken. Heartbreakingly beautiful film but I just couldn’t fully connect with anyone other than the son. I obviously highly recommend it to any “cinema lovers” but it’s not one that will be quite as universally loved as some films in the Top 250.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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