Sunday, November 20, 2005

100 Films: Ladri di biciclette

The scenario of The Bicycle Thief [1] is that age old question of whether it is ethical for a man to steal a loaf of bread to feed his starving family. The difference is in the film our man is stealing a bicycle to keep his job to earn money to buy bread, and preferably bread with mozzarella on it. This is Ethics 101 territory and if I ever have to teach such a class I'll consider screening this movie. However, if this was only a simple moral tale, a well meaning message for folks in post-war Italy, it wouldn't likely be available on DVD or present on our 100 films itinerary, nor would would it probably play to a packed house in New York's upper west side where I saw it several weeks ago. Ideas don't make movies great, movies make ideas great. Sometimes. This time, on top of the standard tropes of Italian neo-realism, the story is driven by the grace and humanity of the performances. The characters are so real, so interesting, and so sympathetic that this movie could have been released yesterday and we wouldn't have to attempt to suspend our disbelieve or give anyone the benefit of the doubt. But even the great performances don't explain the appeal of The Bicycle Thief. The film radiates with life and, even in a world where men must steal bicycles, life is a miracle.

[1] IMDB: Ladri di biciclette


At 7:20 AM, Anonymous ryan estes said...

matt, because of your review we rented this one over the weekend and really enjoyed it. thanks!

At 9:31 PM, Blogger mattreed said...

glad you like it. i also recommend Fellini's La Strada.


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