Bicycle Thieves


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A series of questions for IB Film students to consider whilst viewing Bicycle Thieves. Works well in conjunction with Citizen Kane.

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  • Bicycle Thieves

    1. 1. Italian Neo-Realism Bicycle Thieves (d. Vittorio De Sica, 1948) Sunday, February 8, 2009
    2. 2. Collaboration: Cinematography- Carlo Montuori Screenplay- Cesare Zavattini Sound- Gino Fiorelli Original Music- Alessandro Cicognini Editor- Eraldo Da Roma Sunday, February 8, 2009
    3. 3. Amateur Cast Authenticity? Realism? Truth? Lack of stars? So what? Rainstorm- 39mins into the film. Was this real, if not, does this matter? Sunday, February 8, 2009
    4. 4. Gina Bartoli & Fausto Coppi Fascism v Communism...a symbolic moment Passing the bidon Sunday, February 8, 2009
    5. 5. Mussolini & Hitler The Context: What is the difference between fascism and socialism? Sunday, February 8, 2009
    6. 6. Opening (0:00- 5:00mins) Post war rome...reaction to fascism. How do we know immediately that the film enunciation evokes left-wing sympathy? Status- who has the power? How do we know? Which class is being represented? (preferred reading- how?) Unemployment- Echoes of the early 80s Sunday, February 8, 2009
    7. 7. Bicycle Metaphor Bartoli (Fascist) v Coppi (Communist) Journey narrative? Loss of the bike...narrative vehicle (no pun intended) for quest. Unusual ‘buddy format.’ Compare to the narrative devices used in crime genre films & TV. How would the crime be resolved? Sunday, February 8, 2009
    8. 8. Father/Son- 14:00 Son cleaning the father’s bike Bruno- child labour A series of humiliations? 54mins- striking his son 57mins- Bruno has the moral high ground? (Check mise en scene) Lack of childhood?- 1:04:00 Sunday, February 8, 2009
    9. 9. Ambiguity- the poster? 18:00mins Communication of meaning Rejection of Hollywood conventions...Rita Hayworth- Hollywood icon? Sunday, February 8, 2009
    10. 10. Post-War Rome Bureaucratic incompetency/corruption (20mins) Massive queues (22mins) Crime- systematic (e.g. Illicit Bike industry) Reaction to pedophile- ambivalent & de- sensitised rather than hostile...why? Sunday, February 8, 2009
    11. 11. The setting... Bleak industrial landscape...potholes, factories The ruins of the old city...ancient Rome The significance of the church; sheltering with Priests & pursuing the old beggar - 50mins; Antonio’s lack of respect for the protocol of church- changing attitude to Catholic church? Sunday, February 8, 2009
    12. 12. class juxtaposition 1:00:00- Father takes some control back- challenging the authority of the mother- his only possible avenue of fighting back How are the Middle Classes represented? 1:02:00 Sunday, February 8, 2009
    13. 13. Theme of Humiliation Shamed at the bike market Shamed in the Church 1:10:00- Antonio has to trespass in a brothel 1:13:00- Epileptic fit and bringing on the wrath of a mother 1:20:00- Humiliation leads to widening gap (spacially) between father and son Sunday, February 8, 2009
    14. 14. Shame... Bruno witnessing his father being slapped Use of bruno to help Antonio avoid police punishment Father’s tears- male representation? Sunday, February 8, 2009
    15. 15. Temptation 1:22:00- Recurring motif of bicycle with pro riders passing by The mass of cycles or the lone cycle 1:28- end- sense of injustice? Preferred meaning? How do we read the final shot and the relationship between father and son? Sunday, February 8, 2009
    16. 16. The ending... ʻIndeed, a second viewing of the film might suggest that this has been the main drama all along, that Bruno has been “looking after” Antonio in several senses that point us toward the filmʼs justly famous final moments, when a touching gesture of filial solidarity replaces the class solidarity that De Sica and Zavattini evidently saw as receding in Italy.ʼ (Godfrey Cheshire) Sunday, February 8, 2009