The dire desperate situation of those workers seems to set the tone for the first part of the first act. And our guy, Antonio is quite in bad luck for getting a job but not having a bicycle. I see a prevalent situation among poor families: blaming and shouting at each other for the poor choices they made. You can see how desperate both Antonio and Maria are for having sold the bicycle and then turning to the need for selling the sheets.
He got his bicycle back and that made his day. He is so happy that he even got it to the boss (or register desk, or whatever), only to show that he has his bicycle, even though that isn’t necessary. He gets the job and even greets an unknown man at work, he is that happy. He is even happy there’s overtime, so he can make some extra money. By this we can understand not only the desperate situation of Antonio and the things he has to do to provide for his family (teasing the end), but in general the situation of Italy after WW2 as not only a devastated country, but with devastated people from the war and the downfall of the Italian economy.
But yet again, returning to the base and seeing it from the perspective of Antonio as the head of a poor family, I can get to the conclusion that maybe poor people appreciate little things the most and can be grateful with less effort. I don’t mean that rich people are not grateful and that they don’t appreciate having a job or a bicycle, but if you have nothing, and then something small shows up, no matter how small that thing is, still has an immense value. This is the reason that we see sparkles in the eyes of Antonio after getting the job and returning as a victorious man at home on the day after the job.
Thinking about the relationships inside the family, you can see a certain special spark of love between the couple when they look at each other. And if we go a generation further, you can notice a few behaviors that are quite similar in Antonio and in his son. As a poor family and as people of 70 years ago, they didn’t expressed love directly to each other, but in their smooth and flowing relationship, in their nice catch phrases they said to each other, you can see it was not just a random bond, but an expression of a love bond. And this is mostly emphasized in the scene where Antonio thinks his boy was drowning in the river, the worry in his face, how he ran, and how he was thinking his boy was dead, and how he hugged him when he saw it wasn’t his son.
Seeing the bicycle in quite many scenes, we get a bit attached to it and to the importance it has for Antonio and his family. And judging from the tittle, I really wouldn’t want someone to steal Antonio’s bicycle. And I really did teared my eyes when that bicycle was stolen. Even thought I knew that the bike was gone, I still had a glimpse of hope that he would catch the thief. The movie makes you sympathize with Antonio (and his family) and it feels like a tragic moment when his bicycle got robbed. Actually, for him it is a very tragic moment when the bicycle was stolen. And the desperate situation goes on for the rest of the movie in every scene where Antonio tries to find the bicycle.
The end is very shocking for me. When he gets in that situation where his last resort is to get a new bicycle, is noticeable that he will do something bad. And I was praying that he would not steal a bicycle. Besides the fact that it would be the opposite of karma and would be returned back to him in double (which it did with the beating in the end), it was even worse because his son was there. In a sense, throughout the whole movie, or, better yet, throughout their whole adventures, Antonio is giving a life example to his son, and when in the end his son sees his father robbing a bicycle, everything is turned upside down. His father wasn’t the best man in the world, wasn’t his hero, but he saw his father turn to the dark side right there in front of him. Even though the kid might have known it was for the good of the family, still, I think it was shattering for him to see his father as a thief and to see him get beaten and pushed around as a thief. That is the most painful scene for me in the movie.
I won’t get into the whole deal of neo-realism Italian cinema, but most of the elements of it are noticed quite easily in the movie. And even though the movie finishes quite sadly, still, Antonio is holding his son’s hand, he still is the head of his family. Sure, he is the head of a poor family and he is just like any other person living in Rome at that time (depicted in the last scene where all the people are in the streets and Antonio as well), but at least he has got his family and most probably that is what is going to drive him to work hard. Even watching simply the trailer (here below) you can get a glimpse of what you’re gonna feel during the movie and the comments of the critics might push you to see it with a much more open heart. Enjoy it!