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Cinema According to Víctor Erice

Saturday, August 1, 2015
8:45 p.m. Bicycle Thief
Vittorio de Sica (Italy, 1948)

Part of It’s a Wrap! celebrating our final weekend in the PFA Theater

Come early for a reception with live music and refreshments

(Ladri di biciclette, aka The Bicycle Thieves). De Sica’s neorealist tale finds the despair of postwar Italy evident in the faces of its men. Though the film also explores how women cope with poverty, it devotes most of its energy to documenting Rome’s streets and the depressed, unemployed men who populate them, anxiously waiting for work. One such man is Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani), who miraculously lands a job hanging movie posters around town. Things go awry after Antonio’s bicycle is stolen, forcing him and his young son Bruno to scour the city. For De Sica, the severity of Antonio’s ordeal is as much a crisis of masculinity as it is one of economics; Maggiorani’s melancholy eyes and hardened face express the hardship of a generation of men beaten by hunger and dim prospects. Youthful Bruno tries to keep them upbeat, but as father and son soon learn firsthand, a desperate man can sink to great depths. (Jonathan L. Knapp) Víctor Erice saw the film as an adolescent: "For the first time I saw realism in cinema, I saw faces like those I saw in the street, I saw situations that I could recognize. So that's probably the point where I could say I left innocence behind and moved to a more conscious period."

• Written by Cesare Zavattini, based on a novel by Luigi Bartolini. Photographed by Carlo Montouri. With Lamberto Maggiorani, Lianella Carnel, Enzo Staiola. (93 mins, In Italian with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From Corinth Films)