Bicycle Thieves was an Italian neorealist film made in 1948. The story, like many other Italian neorealist films, does not follow an organized plot with carefully planned obstacles and escalation, but rather seems to follow a life-like situation as it would occur in time. We follow the lead character Ricci as he gets lucky and finds a job, but then his bicycle is stolen. We then follow him on his quest to find this stolen bicycle.
The story has much emphasis on emotions. We feel a great deal of empathy for Ricci when he loses the bicycle, and when he steals someone else’s we do not feel the same sense of wrong towards Ricci as we felt towards the thief that stole Ricci’s bike. This emotional connection is formed through the use of close-ups and realistic, natural acting.
The actual scenes in the film were also very real and true to life - especially the scene were the kid is crying after the father had slapped him. That interaction and situation was very life-like, and viewers could sympathize.
The lead characters of Ricci and his son, Bruno, were both professionals. However, some of the other cast members, such as character Fausto Guerzoni, were amateurs. The use of amateur actors were characteristic to Italian neorealist films due to budgets and because the stories were to be portrayed realistically.
The film was shot mostly on location - especially the scenes at the river, in the streets and the church. Studio-constructed sets could not be afforded. Due to the films being shot on location, natural light could be used as a source.
There was not much camera movement - few, if any, pans and tilts, and no dolly or tracking shots. The editing was also very simplistic - with just a few cuts, crossfades and wipes.
The dialogue was dubbed and could be seen in certain scenes where the audio did not match with the movement of actors’ lips. The scene with the musicians performing in the restaurant was also dubbed because the singer’s lips were not in sync.
Overall the film was made in a realistic, simplistic style. There are few flashy and artistic shots - most of the shots are documentary-style and follow the actions of the actors. The clothing and general aesthetics were not ‘flashy’. However, there were some beautiful and well-composed images that fit well with the accompaniment of a beautiful emotionally-engaging story.