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Bicycle Thieves (The Criterion Collection)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell, Gino Saltamerenda, Vittorio Antonucci
  • Directors: Vittorio De Sica
  • Writers: Vittorio De Sica, Adolfo Franci, Cesare Zavattini, Gerardo Guerrieri, Luigi Bartolini
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Italian (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: February 13, 2007
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KRNGO0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,538 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Bicycle Thieves (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • New interviews with screenwriter Suso Cecchi D'Amico, actor Enzo Staiola, and film scholar Callisto Cosulich
  • "Life As It Is: The Neorealist Movement in Italy," a new program on the history of Italian neorealism in cinema
  • 2003 documentary on screenwriter and longtime Vittorio De Sica collaborator Cesare Zavattini
  • Optional English dubbed soundtrack
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • A booklet featuring new essays by critic Godfrey Cheshire and filmmaker Charles Burnett; remembrances by De Sica ands his family and collaborators; and classic writings on Bicycle Thieves by André Bazin and Zavattini

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Hailed around the world as one of the greatest movies ever made, Vittorio De Sica’s Academy Award–winning Bicycle Thieves defined an era in cinema. In postwar, poverty-stricken Rome, a man, hoping to support his desperate family with a new job, loses his bicycle and main means of transportation for work. With his wide-eyed young son in tow, he sets off to track down the thief. Simple in construction and dazzlingly rich in human insight, Bicycle Thieves embodied all the greatest strengths of the neorealist film movement in Italy: emotional clarity, social righteousness, and brutal honesty.

Amazon.com

Vittorio De Sica's remarkable 1947 drama of desperation and survival in Italy's devastating post-war depression earned a special Oscar for its affecting power. Shot in the streets and alleys of Rome, De Sica uses the real-life environment of contemporary life to frame his moving drama of a desperate father whose new job delivering cinema posters is threatened when a street thief steals his bicycle. Too poor to buy another, he and his son take to the streets in an impossible search for his bike. Cast with nonactors and filled with the real street life of Rome, this landmark film helped define the Italian neorealist approach with its mix of real life details, poetic imagery, and warm sentimentality. De Sica uses the wandering pair to witness the lives of everyday folks, but ultimately he paints a quiet, poignant portrait of father and son, played by nonprofessionals Lamberto Maggiorani and Enzo Staiola, whose understated performances carry the heart of the film. De Sica and scenarist Cesare Zavattini also collaborated on Shoeshine, Miracle in Milan, and Umberto D, all classics in the neorealist vein, but none of which approach the simple poetry and quiet power achieved in The Bicycle Thief. --Sean Axmaker

On the DVD
The two-disc Criterion DVD of Bicycle Thieves is most significant for its fine digitally restored print quality, a marked improvement over previous video editions of the film. Now the beauties of this devastating masterpiece of Italian Neorealism shine through anew: the richness of the locations, the simple clarity of the performances, the heartbreaking details of the daily lives of the dispossessed. No commentary track, but a first-rate booklet gives a primer on the movie, with critical appreciations (including a classic take by Andre Bazin), a bell-ringing Neorealist manifesto by screenwriter Cesare Zavattini, and a variety of memoirs on the making of the film, including one by director Vittorio De Sica. A second disc has three well-chosen extras. Life as It Is: The Neorealist Movement in Italy is a useful 40-minute intro to the general subject of postwar Italian cinema. Working with De Sica is a 22-minute doc with reminiscences from surviving members of the Bicycle Thieves cast and crew, including Enzo Staiola, the unforgettable little boy who was plucked out of a crowd to star in the film. A 55-minute documentary on the life of Zavattini, made for European TV, gives background on this feisty leading light of Neorealism; testimony is offered by Bernardo Bertolucci and Roberto Benigni, among others. By the way, for years the film was known in the U.S. as The Bicycle Thief, but if you re-visit it you'll be struck by how shatteringly appropriate the restoration of the original plural is. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

One of the greatest films ever.
BrKaT818
There is a lot of benefit of learning that you can make a film with deep meaning and heartfelt human emotion with a simple premise and an even simpler story.
Bradford VS
Poverty in Rome and the desperation of poor people is a main theme of the story as well as the struggle to survive.
Lynn Ellingwood

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

192 of 198 people found the following review helpful By R. Geatz on May 30, 2000
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I first saw this movie as a student decades ago, and now seeing it all these years later on DVD, I'm amazed how well it holds up. It's a lesson in what can be done on the screen with so little; there's no budget here, largely amateur actors and a very simple plot. It's about an unemployed man, who gets a job offer that requires a bike, the sacrifice his family must make to get his bike out of hock, and what happens when the bike is stolen on the job. It's successful because I think the writers and director focus on some universal truths--about human nature, love, pride, survival and--yes--family values. It's disheartening to read some reviews that say: "I was bored," "It wasn't entertaining enough," or "Enough with the black & white." It's also disheartening to see reviews from people with no concept of this film's historical context. The poverty of post-WWII Europe produced a revolution in cinema, and this movie was one that redefined the medium's possibilities. I can't imagine someone not being moved by the dilemma faced by the lead character in this film. I do regret that this movie has not gotten a full "Criterion Collection" restoration, and I would have liked more "extras" on the DVD--like background information on the time the director and the Italian neo-realist movement. BTW, the more accurate translation of the Italian title is "Bicycle Thieves," which (after you see the movie) you must agree is more appropriate.
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81 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Andersen TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 14, 2007
Format: DVD
(This review is for the Criterion Collection release of this dvd -- not for the Image Entertainment release that many other reviews here refer to.)

"Bicycle Thieves" (as it is wisely retranslated from the Italian for this new Criterion release) is one of the few "perfect films" -- by which I mean a film that is in its own way just as it should be, lacking nothing, the kind of film where even apparent missteps tend to contribute indelibly to the overall impression of a film in which nothing could have been changed without damaging the film. Take, for example, the scenario that instead of an unknown day laborer in the role of Antonio, de Sica had gone with David Selznick's suggestion of Cary Grant (which was a condition for the film getting funded through American studios). I have no doubt that this would have remained an interesting film, and that Grant would have done an admirable job -- but it would have been a totally different film and would have lost the fragility and vulnerability and delicacy (combined with hardness and objectivity) that make this film so precious. We can all be grateful that De Sica chose to wait for an Italian investor who allowed him to make the film the way he and Zappatini had planned.

Without giving away anything of the plot, I will say that the conclusion of the film is one of the most powerful I have seen -- and carries an emotional weight that is earned rather than manipulated, and that can be compared only to a very few films: Chaplin's City Lights and Kiarostami's Close-up are the only films that come to mind.
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106 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Eddy Oquendo on June 1, 2000
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A classic of world cinema, "The Bicycle Thief" deals with postwar Italian circumstances with searing impact. Some of the elements may remind you of "It's A Wonderful Life," but let's just say: Frank Capra it ain't! This work is uncompromising, and, as famed playwright Arthur Miller put it, "remorseless." It's a wake-up call, effectively arguing that good, sound minded people can be morally destroyed by obsession and despondency; that what is of no consequence to many is vital to some. Don't jump into buying this movie on the opinions of those who love it; it's not for everyone's taste. Rent it first. If you're looking for "entertainment," look elsewhere. But if you value artistically fine movies that address harsh realities, you will be bowled over by this poignant, involving look into one man's snowballing desperation. This film is a friend for life if you appreciate it!
This DVD version of an important film is terrible. Image Entertainment usually makes good digital transfers, and this disc is no exception. But the cause of my gripe isn't the transfer, it's the print used. The copy that Image offers on this DVD is in DESPERATE need of restoration. There are all manner of imperfections in this print -- blotches, streaks, jumps (sometimes for several frames!), scratches, etc. This makes for a visual and audio shadow of a great movie. As if this weren't bad enough, the subtitles are poor. Too many words are left out in the translation, and the subtitles sometimes come late in relation to the dialogue. On the other side of the ledger, the English dub is excellently done (except for a brief section late in the film, seemingly due to the print).
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