Irony In The Bicycle Thief

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Landscapes of Power and Powerlessness in Graziadei and De Sica’s (1948) The Bicycle Thief
Set in the depression times of post-World War II Italy, Graziadei and De Sica’s (1948) The Bicycle Thief narrates the story of Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani), who, after finding a job as a bill poster, loses his bicycle to a young thief. He tries to look for it with his son Bruno (Enzo Staiola); however, despite seeing the thief, he fails to recover his bicycle. Desperate, he tries to steal a bike himself but is easily thwarted by a group of bystanders. They plan to bring him to the police station until the owner notices the weeping Bruno and, in an act of compassion, ask others to release the thief. In this paper, I argue that The Bicycle Thief
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The first thief is a young man, possibly a teenager, who is as poor as Antonio. They live in the same kind of public housing complex with walls of stripped-down paint and more bystanders than people who actually work and earn their living. The second thief is Antonio himself, which is dramatic irony. What heightens the irony is that he does not even steal for a living but he almost gets himself imprisoned. In the meantime, the real thieves, as well as their partners in crime, are out in the open, continuing their criminal ways. Throughout the film, Vittorio De Sica captures imageries of poverty, from the crowd looking for work at the unemployment office to the women whose weary faces underline the challenges of taking care of their families and bear the greatest burden when their breadwinners are…show more content…
Henri Lefebvre (1991) asserted that the production of space concerns the “performances of power through (as cited in Aitken & Dixon, 2006, p. 332). Space is power. Large spaces between the rich and the poor in the buying area underline the performance of space. The representation of space is much more crowded for the poor as shown in the Piazza Vittorio. Gonzaga (2017) would call this the “cinematographic unconscious of slum voyeurism” (p. 102). Representational spaces are filled up with the power of the government and the rich. The scene of the linen being brought up in the warehouse of linen characterizes society’s gross inequality, suggesting that the rich steals from the poor the most. Depicting the poor as they are illustrates the spaces denied to them. If they are concentrated in any space, it is the space of neglect and impoverishment. Filmic landscapes in The Bicycle Thief reveal the reel and the real, the widespread social conditions and their social meanings for the working-class in desperate conditions. De Sica uses mise-en-scene to reveal poverty and mobility to underline the lack of movement of the poor. In the end, they steal from each other, an ironic misdeed, when the rich steals from them the most, specifically by denying them better economic opportunities. The ending is pessimistic but realistic: the poor have no one else but themselves, as they huddle to an uncertain

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