BP’s Top 100 Movie Challenge #47: Bicycle Thieves, by Sarah Brinks
I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have unfortunately never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list provided such a challenge.
Bicycle Thieves is a film on this list that I had always wanted to see but never got around to, which is part of why I am enjoying the Battleship Pretension Top 100 challenge so much. The story of Bicycle Thieves is simple but the film isn’t simple at all. I love that at its heart it is a film about the limits of a man’s morality and his relationship with his son.
I have to start by talking about the son, Bruno, played by Enzo Stailoa. Stailoa was the cutest little kid and am impressive actor. Sometimes the things he would say or the way he would shout at people in Italian was so funny and adorable. He was also heart-breaking at times. Stailoa also had this way of looking at his father that melted my heart. You understand why his father is so desperate to get his bike back but having his son there too gave added pressure especially when he would turn those big eyes to his father or cry his crocodile tears. It was like a punch to the chest every time.
Lamberto Maggiorani plays the father, Antonio, who has his bike stolen. More than that he has the way of supporting his family and proving he is man who can provide stolen. The Italian culture of the film is so centered on masculinity and machismo that a man who cannot provide for his family would feel a lot of additional pressure. Antonio is willing to do a lot of things he normally wouldn’t like harass an old man or break into a home in order to get his bike back and save his reputation.
Antonio isn’t afraid to ask for or accept help but he is also desperate and he gets to point that he abandons his moral compass and attempts to steal someone else’s bike. That final scene when he is clearly wrestling with himself and his morals is painful to watch. He knows that if he steals the bike he could be putting someone else in the same hell that he was put in but his need is great. Maggiorani’s performance in that scene is the best in the entire film and it is heart-breaking.
I enjoy Bicycle Thieves and I’m glad I finally had an excuse to sit down and watch it.
I’ve decided to rate each film using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier)
Bicycle Thieves ranking: Cruiser