Set in post-World War II Val Melaina (Rome), Bicycle Thieves (also known as The Bicycle Thief) tells the tale of Antonio Ricci, a father desperate for work to support his wife, Maria and his cheeky son Bruno. Antoino’s thinks his luck is on the up when he’s offered a job in advertising, pasting advertising boards with posters showing off the latest Rita Hayworth picture.
There’s only one catch though, the applicant must have a bicycle to do the job. Antonio looks at this opportunity as blessing and a curse, but the thinker of the family, Maria quickly makes the money by pawning their lining to get her husband a set of wheels. And we all know what happens to the bike right?
Vittorio De Sica delivers a wonderfully cinematic story, although tragic, it kept me engaged and willing myself to see Antonio reunited with his bicycle. I would have loved to have seen the reaction of audiences seeing this film back in the forties, how would they respond to the ending they were given? It left me surprised, whilst this time of ending isn’t unusual nowadays – but I imagine this would have caught people off guard back in the day.
Bicycle Thieves has been given a brand new 4K restoration from UK Label Arrow Academy; the special features include a feature length audio commentary from Italian Cinema expert Robert Gordon. I listened to a sample of the track, Robert is easy to listen to, he isn’t constantly talking over the film, but when he does, he does a good job at explaining the film and sprinkling in trivia when it’s relevant to the characters on screen.
This release also features two video essays, both last roughly twenty minutes and both were produced particularly for this release. The essays are narration playing over montages of clips and pictures and posters. The first essay is; Money Has Been My Ruin by critic and filmmaker David Cairns on Vittorio De Sica’s career and his filmmaking.
Secondly, we have; Indiscretion of an American Film Producer from film historian Kat Ellinger on De Sica’s relationship with Hollywood producers David O. Selznick and Joseph H. Levine and the blue prints of the American remake that never was. I did find this essay particularly interesting; the story of the proposed American remake was fascinating.
One last thing I want to bring to your attention, the disc also features an original trailer. Now it’s not your standard, graining 2-3 minutes theatrical trailer, there one is like a promo reel advertising De Sica s films, featuring Bicycle Thieves star Lamberto Maggiorani and Francesco Golisano presenting Miracle in Milan. It was a nice touch, a charming little watch actually.
Overall it was great to finally watch this movie and it had some nice special features to back it up, enough to compliment a one disc release. Un must per gli appassionati del cinema italiano classico.
Film: 3/5, Blu Ray: 4/5
Films & Swearing verdict: 7/10