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The Bicycle Thieves The subject of this paper is the Italian neo-realist film, ‘The Bicycle Thieves’ (‘Ladri Di Bibiclette’) directed by Vittorio De Sica. It has been chosen for its powerful depiction of a life endured in poverty and the moral conflicts that afflict the protagonist in his struggle to provide for his family.
It should be clarified that the movement began not to highlight the economic decline that followed World War II but because of it. The film-making industry suffered in particular – by the conversion of studios in to military and refugee camps, the lack of equipment and the unreliability of the electrical supply. This lead to the production of films shot strictly on location, capturing the war-ravaged sights of post-war Italy – and focusing on a more honest portrayal of real lives and real people. Neo-realist filmmakers believed that cinema had moral repercussions and should thus be manipulated carefully to draw attention towards some truths. ‘The Bicycle Thieves’, in keeping with traditional neo-realist films casts non-professional actors in lead roles. Indeed, the protagonist of the movie, Antonio Ricci, was played by Lamberto Maggiorani, a worker himself. The character Antonia Ricci is shown to have been unemployed for almost two years at the start of the film before he is offered a job – the sole requirement of which is the possession of a bicycle. Despite knowing that he does not own one, Ricci takes up the job of putting up movies posters around town. His wife, Maria, pawns linen bed-sheets that were a part of her dowry in exchange for money to buy a bicycle. ...
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