The Greatest films of all time: 4. Bicycle Thieves (1948)(Italy)


Prologue:Why “Bicycle Thieves”?

Why “Bicycle Thieves” jumping on the list of the greatest films of all time to the number 4 on this site? As it has been explained on the front post of the site, only a very few films (so far four) could have defied the historical time criteria of the greatest films, that are “Battleship Potemkin”, “A man with a movie camera”, “Metropolis” and “Bicycle Thieves”. These films that were not the most original, technical, and not with the most impact and the most survival factors, have been able to create such a comprehensive impression and impact on many that defy any criteria, so  stand above all the other films. This does not mean that these films are short of any originality, technicality, impact factor and survival, but in contrary stand above the rest in any of these elements and beyond leaving an overall value that is unique. The rating here could be close to what this film was rated as the third greatest film of all time by the first universal poll in history by thousands of filmmakers and critics in Expo 58 in the Brussels World’s Fair, only beneath “Battleship Potemkin” and “Gold Rush” of Chaplin.


“Bicycle Thieves”, one of the major films of neorealism in cinema that was originated in Italy and put this country’s cinema suddenly on the world map, is quite different and unique even among other great neo-realistic films such as “Rome, Open City” (1945), “Shoeshine” (1946), “Paisa” (1946), and “La Terra Perma” (1948). Even Vittorio De Sica, the creator of “Bicycle Thieves”, could not repeat such a masterpiece with his next great works such as “Umberto-D”, “Miracle in Milan” after his great earlier “Shoeshine”. This is true with many great works in all different art media, as Leonardo Da Vinci could not repeat “Mona Lisa”, or in cinema Eisenstein could not repeat “Battleship Potemkin” and Vertov could not repeat “A man with a movie camera” and Frtiz Lang could not repeat “Metropolis”.


Among many essays and articles that have been written on “Bicycle Thieves” and many recognitions, though insufficiently, this article will attempt to evaluate this great film one more time.


While “Neorealism” started in cinema in Italy and with masterpieces such as “Rome, Open city” of Roberto Rossellini, it was consolidated and opened a great chapter in the art of cinema with Vittorio De Sica and “Bicycle Thieves”. While “Rome, Open City” was made right at the conclusion of WWII and dealt with its impact on a nation and their resistance reaction, “Bicycle Thieves” made just after the war, portrayed the aftermath of the war on the same nation. When after the war, the allies came out victorious and wealthy, the axis power of Germany, Italy and Japan as the defeaters suffered and became the subjects of control and domination by the victors. Here not the governments and the creators of the war suffered, but the nations under them, who endured the suffrage at the time of war and after.

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