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April 03, 2009

Bicycle Thief

Saw an article in the paper of record, The Bicycle Thieves Among Us. It was a story about how New Yorkers seem to be becoming lax about bicycle security.

I had hoped that it would be a story built upon one of my Ten-Best Movies of All Time: The Bicycle Thief (available in both English and Italian w/subtitles). I imagined that it might talk about how the deteriorating economy was driving people to commit crimes which they wouldn't ordinarily do.

The story I imagined was more thought-provoking than the article I found. The story I conjured up was about the 1948 movie, which routinely places in the top-ten lists of movie students. In 1952 it was declared the "greatest film of all time". In a 2002 poll of directors, it placed sixth as the greatest movie ever made. It made the Vatican's list of the best movies ever made.

So let me encourage you to watch The Bicycle Thief, which is available on Netflix, and in the Foreign Films section of Blockbuster. You might be tempted to give up on it in the first fifteen minutes, but it really gets going after that. To me, this was a remarkable movie about universal concepts such as family roles, honor, poverty, and decision making. There's a few plot twists; it's a compelling entertainment.

Anyway, what I'd hoped for when I saw the NYT headline was an article talking about NYC bicycle theft and changing economic times, informed by the theme of this movie. Maybe I'm reaching the age where the interesting news is the fiction I compose, rather than the fiction the media composes.

There is some disagreement about the most correct title; the original was Ladri di biciclette, and Anglo versions call it The Bicycle Thief or Bicycle Thieves.

This is the most successful film in the Italian neo-realist genre, and in keeping with that concept it was filmed on location, with regular people instead of actors.

This is a movie trailer intending to get American audiences to see the film:

The entire movie (Italian with sub-titles) seems to be on YouTube in 10-minute segments, starting with this one below:

And I suppose I should decide what the other nine of my Top Ten Movies are.


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