Sunday, March 29, 2009
This weekend I watched the Italian Neo-Realist film The Bicycle Thief (1948) directed by Vittorio De Sica. The narrative centers around a man who hangs posters for a living to support his family. After his bicycle (his sole means of transportation) is stolen, he and his son go on the hunt for the perpetrator and the lost bike. The black and white drama has many features typical of Neo-Realism: it was shot mostly on location, De Sica uses non-actors to play the main characters, it features lengthy takes, and it deals with the harsh reality of the struggle of the down-trodden worker in urban society. However, there is also an element of beauty in the mundane or the urban grit that De Sica captures artfully. For example, in one scene the father and son are looking through the displays in an outdoor market trying to find parts of the bike (which they believe has been disassembled). There is something extremely poetic yet infinitely overwhelming in the shot of a table laden with hundreds of shiny bike bells that all start to look alike. This scarf by Sunshine and Shadow embodies a Neo-Realist sensibility; though it appears dirty, as though it was smudged with charcoal, it is simultaneously a beautiful piece, and the silky texture creates an interesting and unexpected juxtaposition with the gritty window pane design.