"The cinema is cruel like a miracle." -Frank O'Hara

Why Ladri di Biciclette? [Vittorio de Sica, 1948]

Why seek extraordinary adventures when we are presented daily with artless people who are filled with real distress?

Why did I make that film? Well, after Sciuscià (Shoeshine), I read some thirty of forty scripts, each more “beautiful” than the one before, full of facts and interesting situations. But I was looking for actions which would be less apparently “extraordinary”, which could happen to anyone (above all to the poor), action which no newspaper wants to talk about.

Anyway, everything happened as follows: one evening Zavattini called me to tell me he had read a beautiful book, Ladri di biciclette, by Luigi Bartolini, and that the book had inspired him to write a story for me. The next day I read the first draft of the story. The story differs from the books fairly radically; the latter is really rather cheerful, colorful, and picaresque. It suffices to note that the protagonist of the film is not Bartolini’s but a bill poster who wanders through Rome in a desperate search for his means of transport. From that point, there is another atmosphere, other interests, more adapted to my own means and scope. Why did we then acquire the title and the rights to a book for which we planned a free adaptation? To acknowledge a remarkable writer who, with his vivid style, has given me inspirational motivation for my new film.

My scope is to trace the “dramatic” in everyday situations, the wonderful in small events, what many consider to be artificially embellished trivia. What is the importance, after all, of stealing a bicycle, one which is far from bright and new? In Rome many are stolen every day and nobody cares, since it is of no importance to the rest of the city. Yet, to lose a bicycle is a grave event, a tragic circumstance, for those who have nothing else, who use it to go to work, who cherish it in the turmoil of city life…

Category: film reviews

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