Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 21st, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1948
Director: Vittorio De Sica
Writers: Cesare Zavattini, Suso Cecchi d’Amico, Vittorio De Sica, Oreste Biancoli, Adolfo Franci, Gerardo Guerrieri
Cast: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell, Gino Saltamerenda, Vittorio Antonucci, Giulio Chiari, Elena Altieri, Carlo Jachino, Michele Sakara, Emma Druetti, Fausto Guerzoni
BluRay released: April 18th, 2011
Approximate running times: 89 Minutes (BluRay), 86 Minutes (DVD)
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame / 1080 Progressive (BluRay), 1.33:1 Full Frame (DVD)
Rating: U (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian
BluRay Release: Arrow Academy
Region Coding: Coding: Region B (BluRay), Region 0 PAL (DVD)
Retail Price: £14.99
Bicycle Thieves was directed by Vittorio De Sica, one of the leading filmmakers in the Neorealist film movement that emerged in Italy post World War 2. Though Vittorio De Sica directed three dozen films over the course of four decades, Bicycle Thieves is widely regarded as his masterpiece. Some of his other notable films as a filmmaker include Umberto D, Indiscretion of an American Wife, Two Women and A Brief Vacation.
When discussing the films of Vittorio De Sica, one must not overlook the considerable contributions of screenwriter Cesare Zavattini. Their collaboration would produce two dozen films, three of which (Shoeshine, Bicycle Thieves, Umberto D) would be nominated for Academy Awards for Best Writing, Screenplay.
At the heart of Bicycle Thieves is a an unflinching exploration of the plight of the working class man in poverty stricken post World War 2 Italy. And it should come as no surprise that this film has not lost any of its power over the years, especially since the recent global economic downturn that arose after several well known financial institutions filed for bankruptcy in 2007.
From a production standpoint there is not a single area in which this film is lacking. The film’s direction is flawless and the use of real locations helps reinforce the underlying bleakness of the story at hand. The pseudo documentary visuals quickly help set the tone, with the film’s most visually compelling moment saved for the finale.
Perhaps the most astounding aspect of this production is the performances which are pitch perfect from the entire cast, many of whom had never acted in a film before. The scenes in which Lamberto Maggiorani and Enzo Staiola (in the role of father and son) interact are the backbone of this film. Ultimately Bicycle Thieves ability to strip things to their core is its most enduring asset and while many of its contemporaries have not aged as well, Bicycle Thieves has not lost any of its luster.
Bicycle Thieves comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is given a 1080 progressive transfer that retains its original aspect ratio. The source used for this transfer is in very good shape, print debris is minimal. Contrast and black levels look consistently good throughout. There are no problems with compression and even though DNR is present, it is never too intrusive.
This release comes with one audio options, a LPCM mono mix in Italian and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. Range wise don’t expect too much, dialog comes through clearly, background noise is minimal and everything sounds balanced.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (5 minutes 5 seconds – 1.33:1 full frame, in Italian with English subtitles), two career retrospectives, the first one is for screenwriter Cesare Zavattini (55 minutes 42 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Italian with English subtitles) and the second one is for director Vittorio De Sica (56 minutes 54 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Italian with English subtitles) and a audio commentary with Robert Gordon, author of Bicycle Thieves (BFI Film Classics). Also included with this release is a collectable booklet with liner notes about the film and a reprint of Cesare Zavattini’s ‘Some Ideas on the Cinema’. It should be noted that the DVD does not all of the content on the Blu-Ray disc. With the career retrospective for Cesare Zavattini not being included with the DVD disc that was included as part of this combo release. The wide array of extras included with this release are all exceptional. With the audio commentary with Robert Gordon being the standout extra from this release. Overall Bicycle Thieves gets a strong release from Arrow Academy.