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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ladri di biciclette (Vittorio de Sica, 1948)

Uncovering the drama in everyday life, the wonderful in the daily news (Vittorio de Sica in La fiera letteraria, February 6, 1948)

What makes this story so great? The answer is not that simple. Take the social level of the story. You'd say it is no more relevant. You'd say a bike (the crux of the story in this movie) is nowadays just a bike, nothing else. Actually the social level of the story goes beyond the relevance of the bike. Let's translate it in nowadays language: it's about our ambition to be middle class, the craziness of our ambition to be middle class, our impossibility to be middle class. Once a picaro, always a picaro (would say Alarcón). Once a no-have, always a no-have. The bike is but a myth, says the movie: the middle class is but a myth.

And the story goes beyond its social level: it's the personal drama of a no-have guy against a universe of no-haves like him, completely indifferent to his drama. Nobody's innocent in this story, while nobody's guilty: everyone fights to make ends meet, everyone is indifferent to the big picture.

And above all these, it is the eye of Vittorio de Sica, his extraordinary empathy for this universe of no-haves (a lesson learned from the movies of Chaplin). A universe of a superb picaresque quality: so real, so everyday, while every now and then exploding in surreal.

And Enzo Staiola, the kid always standing by his father, against all odds. And the lesson the kid gets in the end: your father is not a hero, rather somewhere between hero and jerk like everyone else, nevertheless he is your father. Great lesson!

(Italian Movies)



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