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Daniel Bennett
Daniel Bennett

Bicycle Thieves ((EXCLUSIVE))



Bicycle Thieves (Italian: Ladri di biciclette; sometimes known in the United States as The Bicycle Thief)[5] is a 1948 Italian neorealist drama film directed by Vittorio De Sica.[6] It follows the story of a poor father searching in post-World War II Rome for his stolen bicycle, without which he will lose the job which was to be the salvation of his young family.




Bicycle Thieves


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On his first day of work, Antonio is atop a ladder when a young man (Vittorio Antonucci) snatches the bicycle. Antonio gives chase but is thrown off the trail by the thief's confederates. The police warn that there is little they can do.


Advised that stolen goods often surface at the Piazza Vittorio market, Antonio goes there with several friends and Bruno. They find a bicycle frame that might be Antonio's, but the sellers refuse to allow them to examine the serial number. They call an officer over who reads the serial number to them (it does not match) but won't allow them to see the number for themselves.


The original Italian title is Ladri di biciclette. It literally translates into English as "thieves of bicycles"; both ladri and biciclette are plural. In Bartolini's novel, the title referred to a post-war culture of rampant thievery and disrespect for civil order, countered only by an inept police force and indifferent allied occupiers.[18]


Thestory of "The Bicycle Thief" is easily told. It stars LambertoMaggiorani, not a professional actor, as Ricci, a man who joins a hopelessqueue every morning looking for work. One day there is a job--for a man with abicycle. "I have a bicycle!" Ricci cries out, but he does not, for ithas been pawned. His wife Maria (Lianella Carell) strips the sheets from theirbed, and he is able to pawn them to redeem his bicycle; as he glances through awindow at the pawn shop, we see a man take the bundle of linen and climb up aladder to a towering wall of shelves stuffed with other people's sheets.


Thebicycle allows Ricci to go to work as a poster-hanger, slapping paste on wallsto stick up cinema advertisements (a large portrait of Rita Hayworth providesan ironic contrast between the world of Hollywood and the everyday lives ofneorealism). Maria, meanwhile, goes to thank the Wise Woman, who predicted thatRicci would get a job. Ricci, waiting for her impatiently, finally leaves hisbicycle at the door while he climbs upstairs to see what's keeping her; De Sicais teasing us, since we expect the bike to be gone when Ricci returns, and it'sstill there.


Then,of course, it is stolen, no doubt by another man who needs a job. Ricci and hissmall, plucky son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) search for the bicycle, but that's animpossible task in the wilderness of Rome, and the police are no help. FinallyRicci gives up: "You live and suffer," he tells Bruno. "To hellwith it! You want a pizza?" In a scene of great cheer, they eat in arestaurant, Bruno even allowed to drink a little wine; the boy looks wistfullyat a family eating platters of pasta, and is told by his father, "To eatlike that, you need a million lira a month at least."


Alittle later, to his astonishment, Ricci spots the bicycle thief, and pursueshim into a brothel. An ugly crowd gathers. A cop arrives, but can do nothing,because there is no evidence and only Ricci as witness. And then, in the famousclosing sequence of the movie, Ricci is tempted to steal a bicycle himself,continuing the cycle of theft and poverty.


Andits influence isn't entirely in the past. One of the 1999 Oscar nominees forbest foreign film is "Children of Heaven," from Iran, about a boy wholoses his sister's shoes. In it there is a lovely passage where the fatherlifts his boy onto the crossbar of his bicycle and pedals to a richneighborhood, looking for work. The sequence resonates for anyone who has seen"The Bicycle Thief." Such films stand outside time. A man loves hisfamily and wants to protect and support them. Society makes it difficult. Whocannot identify with that?


Set in poverty-stricken Rome in post-World War II Italy, the story concerns a poor father who's scavenging for any kind of work to support his family. Having secured a job after selling his precious possessions to buy a bicycle which is required to carry out his duties, the future looks promising but his whole world is turned upside down when someone steals his bicycle.


Bicycle Thieves tells the story of Antonio, a long unemployed man who finally finds employment putting up cinema posters for which he needs a bicycle. His wife pawns all the family linen to redeem the already pawned bicycle and for Antonio salvation has come, until the bicycle is stolen. Antonio and his son take to the streets in a desperate search to find the bicycle. Bicycle Thieves is as much about the position of Italians in post-War, post-Fascist Italy as the relationship between father and son, told through the labyrinth of the cinematic city with De Sica's arresting visual poetry.


Good news for Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani): He's won a hard-to-find job hanging posters. He needs a bicycle to keep the job, and his wife Maria (Lianella Carell) pawns her sheets to get the family bicycle out of hock. On his very first day working, Antonio's bicycle is stolen. He feverishly sets out with his young son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) to find it ... but it could be anywhere in the big city.


The Italian economy is an inversion of the American standard. Our homes are filled with consumer goods bought on credit, i.e., still technically owned by banks but being used and enjoyed. A huge pawnshop - warehouse dominates Ricci's neighborhood; it houses practically everything of value, awaiting redemption. The people have nothing. Americans may think of a bicycle as a toy for a child. For Antonio it makes the difference between a job and nothing, between pride and shame. His family could fall apart for want of something a simple as a bicycle.


The makers of Bicycle Thieves wanted to portray the world as it is, avoiding theatrical conventions. Describers of Italian Neorealism usually define the style in terms of what it avoids: Complex plotting, star names, psychological complexity. The bicycle is stolen and most of the rest of the film relates Antonio and Bruno's efforts to get it back. We don't see flashbacks showing the troubled childhood of the bicycle thief, 'explaining' why he was driven to steal. Nobody makes speeches about the state of the world or the future they desire. And more importantly, there are no official 'author's messages' or uplifting morals. There is nothing specific to be learned. Antonio knows how slim his chances will be to retrieve his bicycle, and that's that.


The unbearable comes true for Antonio when, by a near miracle, he finds the needle in the haystack and corners the man who stole his bicycle. But it does him no good. The thief is among his friends and neighbors, who all but attack Antonio for accusing him. The indifferent crowds on the street are now openly hostile. This injustice triggers Antonio to try for a bicycle by stealing one. De Sica and Zavattini could easily have twisted this into a cheap justification for crime among the poor: If life is so unfair, it's every man for himself.


The theft of bicycles is a substantial social problem in many countries [1]. In England and Wales, for example, there were 115,905 bicycle thefts reported to police between April 2011 and May 2012 [2]. This represented an increase of 6% compared to the previous year, whereas the overall number of crimes fell by 4%. Bicycles are often stolen from on-street locations where they have been left by their owners, for example at university campuses and railway stations [3]. Although a number of initiatives for reducing bicycle theft have been experimented with, there is at present scant evidence on the effectiveness of these [3]. In this paper, we report an evaluation of the effectiveness of a simple, cheap anti-bicycle theft intervention using signs designed to evoke the psychology of being watched that was implemented at a large university campus in Northern England.


One of our previous studies suggested that the effect of eyes did not depend on displaying an associated verbal message [22]. However, previous anti-theft research has suggested that displaying signs indicating verbally an awareness that theft is going on in a particular location, and an attention to it, can itself be highly effective in reducing theft [28]. Thus, we designed an intervention that would combine both watching eyes and a verbal message, by making and displaying large signs above bicycle racks. Limitations of resources and scale meant that we were not able to test which parts of the intervention were responsible for any change in thefts. For example, we did not experiment with displaying eyes without the verbal message, or the verbal message without the eyes. However, an important first step is to establish what effect if any the combination of the eyes and the verbal message had on bicycle thefts. To do this, we installed the signs for one year in three high-theft locations on a university campus, and recorded the number of notified bicycle thefts in the year before and the year after installation, for these experimental locations, and, as a control, for the rest of the campus.


Newcastle University has a large campus within an urban area which can be freely entered by pedestrians from surrounding parts of the city at numerous points and at any time of day. The campus is covered by closed circuit television and regular foot and vehicle security patrols, but these did not change in any way over the course of the study. The use of bicycles is popular with students and staff, and these are left locked to racks and fences outside and between university buildings (see Fig. 1). There has been a persistent problem with bicycle thefts, with over 50 per year notified to the estate security service for the past several years. It is likely that there are also a considerable number of thefts that are never notified, but we have no means of estimating the prevalence of these. However, the rate of notification is likely to be fairly high, as those losing cycles require a crime number in order to be able to make an insurance claim. The estate security service maintains a database of the date and location of each notified theft. 041b061a72


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