The film is good material for philosophical inquiry. In my view, the essence of the film is the last scene where the victim decides to become the victimizer. When Antonio Ricci (the protagonist) decides out of desperation that he would steal a bicycle to recompense what had been stolen from him, the title Bicycle Thieves takes on an added dimension. What was till that point in film a reference to the gang of burglars who steal bicycles and resell them in the market, now includes the aggrieved loser himself. This is a powerful political statement on part of De Sica about the nature of poverty and the evaluation of morality in this economic realm. In other words, the film can be seen as an early exploration on the vicious cycle of poverty and crime. There is little doubt that the director’s take on these twin blights of society are rather sympathetic. This much is evident from the overall tone and effect of the film. In this sense, the film is a powerful social and political comment – something that is apt for further study from sociological perspectives. (Ratner, 2005)
In sum, Bicycle Thieves is an important work in the history of world cinema. Its appeal is universal because its theme is universal and based on humanism. Bicycle Thieves is an intense film that has an underlying engagement with humanist philosophy. The film is morally probing and critical of society. Although it is sixty years past its release date, it holds ample relevance to the present era, what with recurrent economic crises the feature of our times. The film also offers a sympathetic perspective on crime. In this sense, it offers a talking point for social scientists and law makers. Given the sizeable incarceration rates in many industrial societies, there is a strong case for relooking crime and punishment.
Ratner, M. (2005). GreenCine, “Italian Neo-Realism”. Online resource.
Wakeman, J. (1998). World Film Directors, Volume 2. The H. W. Wilson Company. 663-669.