Analysis of Bicycle Thief

In The Bicycle Thieves, Vittorio De Sica captured the essence of poverty and despair that permeated post-World

War II Italy. Despite the simplicity of the plot’s premise (that of Antonio Ricci and his bike), De Sica depicts the emotional turmoil of unemployment when the poverty-stricken Antonio loses the bike necessary for his new job. Through the contrast of Antonio’s initial optimism with his subsequent aggression and dishonesty, De Sica illustrates a man’s descent into despair in his attempt to escape poverty. De Sica’s depiction of Antonio’s ecstasy after redeeming his bike sets him up for failure. The film showed him entering the employment office with his newly-redeemed bicycle over his shoulders. His action drew the attention an onlookers, who asked, “What’s the matter with you? Are you afraid?” Antonio’s overprotective nature over his bike reflects his hope that the bicycle would save him from poverty. The scene where Antonio biked through the streets with Bruno further relayed his optimism. The composition of the shot (Antonio bicycling against the backdrop of other bicyclists), the radiance of Antonio’s face, and the upbeat background music reinforced the audience’s expectation of Antonio’s success. De Sica’s portrayal of Antonio at the height of his optimism thus enabled the audience to greater sympathize with the loss of his bike. After Antonio lost his bike, De Sica illuminated Antonio’s transition into a state of aggression. Antonio’s interactions with others grew more abrasive throughout the film. Antonio brusquely confronted an old man on the mere suspicion that the man knew the bicycle thief; following Bruno’s complaint about the futility of their search, Antonio also slapped Bruno without hesitation. Antonio’s aggression peaked in the ensuing clash with the suspected thief, drawing the disapproval of the neighbors. Antonio’s decline into aggression contrasted with his initial depiction as a gentle person. In characterizing Antonio’s aggression, De Sica not only illustrates to the audience how despair can alter a man’s character, but also foreshadows Antonio’s ultimate demise.

and scorn Antonio’s dishonesty and irresponsibility. . the film repeatedly cut from shots of the lone bike to Antonio’s pacing feet. revealing the true depth of Antonio’s demise. De Sica’s characterization of Antonio Ricci enabled the audience to witness on screen the driving force of poverty. In doing so. The cinematography heightened the suspense.De Sica portrays Antonio’s abandonment of honesty and responsibility. De Sica masterfully crafted for the audience the emotional turmoil and depression that permeated Italy during that era. leaving the audience to lament. emphasizing the gravity of Antonio’s decision-making. stared longingly at a lone bike. pity. thus establishing his demise. and from virtue to dishonesty. Depicting the transition from hope to despair. “some fine example for your son. The final dialogue in the film. As Antonio. from gentility to aggression.” further shifted the attention to Bruno. Antonio’s attempted theft and subsequent capture reinforced the image of him as a fallen protagonist. Through the loss of Bruno’s innocence. at the pinnacle of his desperation. De Sica brought Antonio to an ultimate low.

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