The movie Bicycle Thieves (1948) is rightfully considered to be a masterpiece of Italian neorealist cinema and one of the most remarkable movies ever made. Vittorio De Sica, its famous film director, was loyal to the principles of the post-war Italian film-making philosophy and he managed to take it to a totally new level, sparking a new wave of cinematograph.
A neorealist movie is aimed at depicting routine struggle of a common man who does everything he can to survive in hard times. Bicycle Thieves withdrew from any kind of glamour or artificial techniques that could create illusions. It was shot on location only and there were no professional actors or actresses involved. It should be noted though that the acting is superb notwithstanding non-professionalism of acting.
Scarcity, total absence of romanticism and emphasis on daily experiences and feelings are the priorities of this genre, so the fiction movies resemble documentaries that imply deciphering common people and even making stories for them when they just disappear and blend with the crowds afterwards. The director often uses a hand-help camera to get the dramatic effect he wants to create.
The stories and dialogues seem to be stolen from people on the streets; however, the director manages to produce a highly engaging plot that keeps the audience on the tenterhooks up to the very end. Even nowadays, it is evident that the movie is a quintessence of Italy portraying both its unique beauty and drawbacks. It was an innovative approach to present the country not in a favorable light but still without destroying its beauty.
The power of the Italian Neorealism in general and Bicycle Thieves in particular is that they are as relevant today as they were more than sixty years ago. The movies show the universal concepts as exemplified by the local scenes. Thus, watching Bicycle Thieves, the viewers see both the past of Italy and have an insight into the future regardless of their own background.