Apr 26, 2008

Landmark Larceny

Rarely do I witness a film so moving, so exquisitely captivating and psychologically impactful, and so deft at magnifying the emotional intricacies of everyday life into powerful, universal statements that it leaves me nearly speechless, but it does happen. Vittorio de Sica's Ladri di Biciclette (The Bicycle Thief), a simple glimpse into a painful crux in the life of an impoverished family, is one such film, proving nearly defiant of description (though I wouldn't be me if I didn't try).

Bleak, stirring, and a portrait of desperation in scratchy black-and-white, The Bicycle Thief observes the turns of disillusion and contentment which cycle through the face of a young, gaunt man seeking to support his family in mid-2oth century Rome: like most of his working-poor contemporaries, security and happiness are evasive for him until a much-needed job is attained, then forfeited upon the occasion of the titular theft. But masterful de Sica seems to have left his plot and his dialogue intentionally simple to highlight the anguish the larceny creates for those who feel its effect - and the film follows its leads' struggle for a just and deserved denoument til the final few minutes of this moving masterpiece.

Though available on DVD, Thief is difficult to locate; it is currently available in for viewing in a video series on the video-sharing site YouTube. Just click this link to be taken to the film's first 10-minute segment (please note this an external link).

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