Death of a Cyclist
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Upper-class geometry professor Juan and his wealthy married mistress Maria José, driving back from a late-night rendezvous, accidentally hit a cyclist, and run. The resulting, exquisitely shot tale of guilt, infidelity, and blackmail reveals the wide gap between the rich and the poor in Spain, and surveys the corrupt ethics of a society seduced by decadence. Juan Antonio Bardem s charged melodrama Death of a Cyclist (Muerte de un ciclista) was a direct attack on 1950s Spanish society under Franco s rule. Though it was ultimately affected by the dictates of censorship, the film s sting could never be dulled.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:
New, restored high-definition digital transfer
Calle Bardem (2005), a documentary on the revolutionary life and career of director Juan Antonio Bardem
New and improved English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by scholar Marsha Kinder and a 1955 essay by Bardem on Spanish cinema
Juan Antonio Bardem's Death of A Cyclist cinematically resembles a noir thriller while it makes a stark political statement against the Spanish government at the time of its conception, namely Franco's regime. Class inequities and distrust thematically color this film, starring Maria Jose (Lucía Bosé), whose insecurities about her infidelity to wealthy businessman, Miguel Castro (Otello Toso), are compounded when she and her illicit love, Juan Soler (Alberto Closas), accidentally hit a bicyclist while driving together. Panicking and leaving the cyclist to die, Juan and Maria are plagued by guilt and fear of discovery. An art critic and friend of Castro's, Rafael Sandoval (Carlos Casaravilla), serves as a corrupt conscience to the secret couple and threatens them with blackmail. Juan and Maria are thrust into his guessing game, in attempts to glean how much Sandoval knows. As Marsha Kinder mentions in her excellent essay accompanying this Criterion Collection release, Bardem's revolt lies not only in the plot and in his efforts to create a "realistic" Spanish film, but also by establishing characters who rebel against conformityMaria against typical gender roles, and Juan, a liberal but poor Geometry teacher, against his upper-class family's desire for him to grow rich. Landscapes and sets, like the barren desert road where the accident takes place versus the lavish Spanish villa interiors, provide more visual fodder for Bardem's condemnation of power imbalance. Included as an extra is the short documentary, "Calle Bardem," (2005) comprised of interviews with Bardem's friends and colleagues that offer a clearer image of this highly-opinionated auteur. Death of A Cyclist's narrative is juicy in itself but is succeeded by its ambition to revamp Spanish cinema while speaking out against causes the director was dedicated to.--Trinie Dalton
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer
- Calle Bardem (2005), a documentary on the revolutionary life and career of director Juan Antonio Bardem
- Theatrical trailer
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- A booklet featuring an essay by scholar Marsha Kinder and a 1955 essay by Bardem on Spanish cinema
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Beautifully made with a striking use of transitions to keep us off base, and an alternating mix of neo-realist, and slick Hitchcockian camera work that evokes the separation of class in society.
The story is simple. A pair of upper-class lovers accidentally hit a cyclist on the highway, and leave him to die, for fear of having their affair discovered and losing all they have in society and with each other.
The rest of the film is about both the moral questions of responsibility and ego versus a sense of communal responsibility, and the gut wracking tension as to whether the two will be uncovered.
I was occasionally bothered by the heavy-handedness of some of the film. Sometimes it was just a too on-the-nose, politically ironic line of dialogue, but particularly irksome was an important sub-plot about a student the male half of our anti-hero couple has treated unfairly. This story element, while beautifully shot and well acted, feels like it exists only to make political and thematic points, and pulled me out of identifying with the film on a human level. Likewise, a couple of crucial character twists, while interesting, feel forced or sudden -- more there to make a point then to honestly continue the narrative.
But these are really very small flaws compared to the film's great strengths, and it is very much worth seeing.
The plot is very suspensive and contains some twists reminiscent of Hitchcock; the camerawork is competent, though the acting is maybe a little stiff (maybe typical for 1950s cinema?).
The moral dimension is interesting, with Juan who sees himself as a failure, economically and professionally, as he is dependent on influental relatives. The accident and his moral failure makes him re-evaluate his life. And Maria is confronted with her strong desire for status. In the films opening scene they choose to leave the cyclist in the ditch, dying.
The transfer from Criterion is excellent, and there are some extras: a documentary about Bardem and a informative booklet. The film is said to be a standard ingredient in cinema studies, and finally it is available on DVD. Recommended to everyone interested in cinema, and/or some suspense.
A tremendous piece of cinema, beautifully written, beautifully shot, and beautifully acted. It's also a rich piece of dramatic literature for reading and discussion in an advanced language class. Only when I started transcribing scenes for my class did I notice how spare and dense the writing is; it would be hard to find another sound picture that establishes characters and puts them onto seemingly inevitable paths with so little dialogue. Great stuff, and loaded with clearly spoken Spanish idioms that make good fodder for a language class.