Bicycle Thieves

Director: Vittorio De Sica

Actors: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell

Language: Italian

Movement: Italian Neorealism

Genre: Drama

Synopsis - A man and his son search for a stolen bike so the man can keep his job. Man ignores child throughout and even tries to steal a bike in the end so he can support his family. He gets caught, his son is crying, he realizes that what is important is his family.

Themes: Poverty, desperation, morality, social injustice

”the cruelty of modern life threatens to make robbers of us all”

fable of desperation

seeing and caring, about the danger of being distracted from what matter

mass unemployment and widespread homelessness

in the world in which this workman [Antonio] lives, the poor must steal from each other in order to survive.

ineffective institutions, the individual against the group, and abject poverty


Antonio doesn’t notice Bruno fall in the rain, nor does he notice 2 cars nearly run over him


Antonio Ricci Maria Ricci - Antonio’s wife; pragmatic; believes in a seer Bruno Ricci - One of the Ricci kids. Hardworking, rational, kind. works at a gas station to support the family. Looks up to Antonio but throughout the movie, as Antonio’s desperate search for his bicycle gets more and more bleak, the relationship between father-son deteriorates and Bruno is witness his father’s not-so-nice side - selfish and careless.

The Thief - The antagonist but we sympathize with his character. We learn that he was in a poor position, trying his best to survive.

Police - Uncaring and useless; serves as a critique of modern institutions that fail to protect common man

Baiocco - Friend of Antonio who helps him


  • Antonio Ricci, an unemployed man, gets a job as a poster hanger, but he needs a bicycle to do it. He pawns his family’s bedsheets to get his bicycle back from the pawnbroker.
  • On his first day of work, his bicycle is stolen by a young man who escapes with the help of an accomplice. Antonio chases him but fails to catch him.
  • Antonio and his son Bruno search for the bicycle all over the city, encountering various obstacles and challenges. They visit a market, a church, a brothel, and a fortune-teller, but find no clues.
  • Antonio spots the thief in a crowd, but he denies stealing the bicycle and has no proof. The thief’s neighbors defend him and threaten Antonio. The police arrive but are unable to help Antonio without evidence.
  • In a moment of desperation, Antonio attempts to steal another bicycle, but he is caught and surrounded by an angry mob. He is spared from arrest by the owner’s mercy, but he is humiliated in front of his son, who witnesses his father’s crime.
  • Antonio and Bruno walk away, holding hands, in a crowd of people, with no hope of finding their bicycle or improving their situation.