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Bicycle Thieves [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1948]

Release Date:02/13/2007
Vittorio DeSica's Ladri di Biciclette is one of the cornerstone works of the Italian neorealist movement, and had a profound influence on both European and American filmmakers for decades after its original release in 1948, so it's no surprise that the cineastes at the Criterion Collection went out of their way to give the picture a definitive presentation in this two-disc DVD edition. Bicycle Thieves (as it's called in this package, rather than the less accurate but more common English translation The Bicycle Thief) has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the image looks better than it ever has before on video; while there's nothing flashy about the film's visual style, this edition certainly pulls a new wealth of detail from Carlo Montuori's cinematography, and the source materials are pristine. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and two soundtracks have been included -- the original English language version, and a dubbed English language track, both of which sound quite good for the period. Optional English subtitles are also included. The bonus disc contains a number of relevant extras, including two original documentaries -- Working With DeSica, in which screenwriter Suso Cecchi d'Amico and actor Enzo Staiola share their memories of working on the project while critic and historian Callisto Cosulich discusses his meetings with the legendary filmmaker, and Life As It Is: The Neorealist Movement In Italy, essentially an illustrated lecture from Mark Shiel on the history and impact of this vital subgenre. Also featured is a 2003 television documentary on Cesare Zavattini, who helped write Ladri di Biciclette and became a major force in Italian filmmaking as well as one of DeSica's most trusted collaborators. Along with the two discs, Criterion have also included a beautiful 78-page book with essays on the film from DeSica, Zavattini, Andre Bazin, Sergio Leone and many others. Quite simply, it's hard to image a better or more thorough presentation of Bicycle Thieves than the one Criterion has offered us with this package, and it's worthy of one of the most important and powerful motion pictures of its era.

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    Special Features

    • Disc one: The film
    • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
    • Optional English-dubbed soundtrack
    • New and improved English subtitle translation
    • Disc two: The supplements
    • Working with De Sica, a collection of new interviews with screenwriter Suso Cecchi d'Amico, actor Enzo Staiola, and film scholar Callisto Cosulich
    • Life as It Is: The Neorealist Movement in Italy, a new program on the history of Italian neorealism, featuring scholar Mark Shiel
    • A 2003 documentary on screenwriter and longtime Vittorio De Sica collaborator Cesare Zavattini, directed by Carlo Lizzani
    • Plus: A book featuring new essays by critic Godfrey Cheshire and filmmaker Charles Burnett, remembrances by De Sica and his collaborators, and classic writings by Zavattini and critic André Bazin


    The Bicycle Thief
    This landmark Italian neorealist drama became one of the best-known and most widely acclaimed European movies, including a special Academy Award as "most outstanding foreign film" seven years before that Oscar category existed. Written primarily by neorealist pioneer Cesare Zavattini and directed by Vittorio DeSica, also one of the movement's main forces, the movie featured all the hallmarks of the neorealist style: a simple story about the lives of ordinary people, outdoor shooting and lighting, non-actors mixed together with actors, and a focus on social problems in the aftermath of World War II. Lamberto Maggiorani plays Antonio, an unemployed man who finds a coveted job that requires a bicycle. When it is stolen on his first day of work, Antonio and his young son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) begin a frantic search, learning valuable lessons along the way. The movie focuses on both the relationship between the father and the son and the larger framework of poverty and unemployment in postwar Italy. As in such other classic films as Shoeshine (1946), Umberto D. (1952), and his late masterpiece The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1971), DeSica focuses on the ordinary details of ordinary lives as a way to dramatize wider social issues. As a result, The Bicycle Thief works as a sentimental study of a father and son, a historical document, a social statement, and a record of one of the century's most influential film movements. ~ Leo Charney, Rovi

    Cast & Crew

    • Lamberto Maggiorani
      Lamberto Maggiorani - Antonio Ricci
    • Lianella Carell
      Lianella Carell - Maria Ricci
    • Enzo Staiola
      Enzo Staiola - Bruno Ricci
    • Image coming soon
      Elena Altieri - The Lady
    • Image coming soon
      Vittorio Antonucci - The Thief

    Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.