Tuesday 21 August, 7.30pm for 8pm start


When Sight & Sound launched its critics poll to determine to the 50 Greatest Films of All Time in 1952 Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves topped the list. Six decades later it’s only dropped 33 places. It won an Oscar in 1949 and filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray and Ken Loach have claimed the film as a direct influence on their own.

This simple story is set in Rome suffering from a depressed economy (sound familiar?). Desperate for work and with a wife and two children to support long-unemployed Antonio Ricci gets a job pasting up movie posters.

On Antonio’s first day of work a young thief steals his bike. Antonio gives chase, but to no avail. He goes to the police, but there is little they can do. The only option is for Antonio, his young son Bruno, and his friends to walk the streets of Rome themselves, looking for the bicycle. But amid a sea of other bikes and without proof the search is fruitless.

Bicycle Thieves tells us as much about the position of Italians in post-War, post-Fascist Italy as well as the relationship between father and son, told through the labyrinth of the cinematic city with De Sica’s visual poetry. With pared down minimalism, eschewing studios and famous actors for real locations and non-professional actors who lived the lives they were playing, Bicycle Thieves defined the neorealist period, a small period of filmmaking that focused on simple, humanist stories, of which Bicycle Thieves was one of the most captivating and moving.

Be warned – it’s a tear-jerker – so bring some tissues.

Here's the trailer >>

Why did we pick it?

In The Player Griffin Mill tracks down the screen-writer he thinks is sending him death threats to a Los Angeles cinema showing Bicycle Thieves.

AuthorTufnell Park Film Club