The bicycle thief


1948. English subtitles. Black and white. 91 min.

This landmark Italian neo-realist drama became one of the best-known and widely acclaimed European movies, winning a special Academy Award as ‘most outstanding foreign film’ seven years before that Oscar category existed. Written by Cesare Zavattini and directed by Vittorio De Sica, the movie features all the hallmarks of the neo-realist style: a simple story about the lives of ordinary people, outdoor shooting and lighting, non-actors mixed together with actors, and a focus on social problems in the aftermath of World War II. Lamberto Maggiorani plays Antonio, an unemployed man who finds a coveted job that requires a bicycle. When it is stolen on his first day of work, Antonio and his young son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) begin a frantic search. The movie focuses on both the relationship between the father and son and the larger framework of poverty and unemployment in post-war Italy.

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