Throughout time film has navigated itself in many directions through the use of growing technological advancements and worldly changes which have impacted in many breakthroughs in film history. Bicycle Thieves which was written by Cesare Zavattini and directed by Vittorio De Sica captured hardships of Italy post World War two through their neorealistic style and thematic approach. The famous final scene captures the true essence of a working class man during this historical era; this was accomplished through the use of the neorealistic approach which was in full bloom during this point in time. haracteristics such as long takes, location filming as well as non famous actors and themes surrounding poverty and hardships of the average working class man was embodied throughout the film.
Before the rise of neorealism, poetic realism took forefront with ideas of a more realistic portrayal of life being requested. Neorealism became a new film style after World War two; it focused on the everyday man and his struggles with poverty and the social issues that he faced. The film style consisted of longer takes, non-professional actors, location filming and themes which surrounded the economic changes which occurred in Italy post world war.
It’s main theme depicted the struggles of economic instability among the working class and their desperation and the real problems they faced daily. As neorealism grew popular films took an entirely different approach from its familiar exaggerated scenes which revolved around spectacle to simpler movies which focused on the actual storyline. Bicycle Thieves embodies this approach as it tells the unfortunate story of a common man who fails to provide a better life for his family due to an unjust crime. isolated bicycle
One of the distinct features which stood out in the final scene was the quality of shots that were taken . The final scene which comprises of a number of shots ranging from long shots to medium and even medium close up adds to the intensity of the climax and anticlimax. Neorealism filmmaking was known for its range of long shots among these were the shots of the busy streets which symbolically displays the carefree nature of Antonio’s surroundings which eludes the reality that he’s but a small man in a large world.
There were also shots of the stadium which stood a distance away from Antonio, it was well observed that the loud busy noises that occurred in this shot added to his frustrations, whereby the frantic environment evoked how he felt during this time. The shot that showed the isolated which stood in another street added to the intensity of the climax as it symbolically represented his mind mocking him and even persuading him to get it over with and make a move. The close up shots comprised of a series of shots which depicted the feelings running through the actors during their ordeal.
Antonio’s constant hair grabbing and pacing back and forward was seen during these shots as it evoked his demise. Similarly Antonio’s son Bruno also had a couple close shots showing his inquisition towards his father and his frustrations. The final shot centred on their faces to show the empathy in which they were feeling as they walked noticeably slower than the persons in their surroundings which represented the harsh reality that nobody truly cared for them. The final scene of the movie is set in the busy streets of Rome.
This is seen as another feature of the neorealism approach where scenes were shot on location rather than a closed set. The reason for location filming was due to the demolition of film studios and other important film buildings during the world war two which left film sets in shambles. Filmmakers had to work around this and so location filming became a popular characteristic of the neorealist movement. The final scene was shot in the city area of Rome where Antonia and Bruno are situated after their failed attempt to retrieve the bike.
This location is fundamental for this scene since it adds to the climax during Antonio’s attempt to steal the bicycle , the large influx of people adds to the suspense as Antonio commits a crime in such a busy and prominent area. The neorealistic film style usually involved the use of non professional actors; with lead roles even being given to no professional actors which was seen in Bicycle Thieves. The film did not consist of any professional actors with the lead being played by Lamberto Maggiorani a factory worker.
His tall sharp frame, high cheekbones and his overall physique made him effective in his representation of an ordinary working-class man. The lead’s son who was played by Enzo Stailo was even found during the shooting of a scene.. His round face and piercing eyes stood out and made him perfect for the part. De Sica personally had a preference for non professional actors since he believed that they were the raw thing and could be moulded to suit the part perfectly.
Enzo’s acting in the final scene was nothing short from perfect; their realities as regular working class people made them perfect for the part as they were able to dig deep and evoke the true emotions and struggles that a common man faces. Their eye contact and body language told a story of its own. De Sica’s choice of non professional actors for the leading roles proved to be fitting for the movie. This was well acknowledged during the last scene where the raw emotions and pure devastation of Antonio and Bruno was felt among the audience.
Their ability to relate to the circumstances which was centred around the last scene allowed for a genuine reaction from the actors themselves. Since both Maggiorani and Stailo were actual working class people their acting made the last scene even more believable. Neorealism focused heavily on the theme of poverty and the portrayal of the average man. The movie Bicycle Thieves did exactly this through the unique and simplistic storyline of Antonio and his son Bruno.
The story focused on the simple daily struggles of a common man from the large crowd of unemployed men begging for a job, to the pawning of everyday essentials, to the high esteem associated with eating in a restaurant. The final scene particularly represented the harsh reality of unemployed, poverty stricken people during post World War as Antonio was driven to a point of desperation given his circumstances. One of the prominent features associated with neorealism was its focus on situations which occurred throughout the lives of the lower class people.
Antonio’s desperation to drive himself out of poverty for his family drove him to do the very thing which brought him great pain. Zavattini cleverly twisted the plot in its final scene to show the outcomes that occurs in the lives of poverty stricken people. Though Antonio wanted to make an honest living he was driven to a point of poor decision making in order to rid himself of his financial crisis. The famous final scene embodies everything that is considered to be neorealism; the brilliant acting portrayed by the main actor Antonio and his son Bruno enables the audience to sympathize with their dilemma.