“The Bicycle Thief”
The era when bicycles were a ray of hope for survival.

Bicycle theft. Everyone would want to avoid this worst-case scenario. We carefully select parts and body materials, striving to reduce weight to the gram, yet chain locks for theft prevention weigh 500 grams, which seems counterproductive. Bicycle thieves are unforgivable. They should disappear from this world.

There is an old film called “Bicycle Thief” (1948). It was directed by Vittorio De Sica (known for ” Sunflower” filmed in the sunflower fields of Ukraine). This film depicts the poignant lives of Italian laborers after the war.

The stage is post-World War II Rome. The aftermath of the war has brought a severe economic downturn, and our protagonist, Antonio, has been jobless for two years. His family is on the brink of starvation, and he desperately needs to find work. Through a referral from the employment agency, he finds a job as a poster hanger, but there’s one condition – he needs a bicycle. Antonio had pawned his bicycle, but with the help of his family, he manages to retrieve it. Filled with hope, he loads his work tools onto the bicycle and sets off to work with high spirits. It’s a chance for a better life.

However, hope is short-lived as, on his first day, his bicycle gets stolen (What a disaster!). Losing the bicycle means losing the job. Together with his son, he searches the town, but the bicycle remains elusive.

Mamma Mia! Antonio is at a loss.

In his despair, he stumbles upon a bicycle without a lock.

“With a bicycle, I can work again,” Antonio realizes.

Unable to resist the devil’s temptation, Antonio commits a sin. Who can blame him for his wrongdoing? Yet, the owner of the bicycle knows nothing of Antonio’s circumstances. Poor Antonio is brutally beaten in front of his son.

Strangely, when watching the movie, one finds oneself feeling sympathy and cheering for the man who committed the crime. Despite being such an unforgivable bicycle thief. How do those who love bicycles feel when they watch this film? I highly recommend finding out for yourself.

Text_Hideki Inoue

I am from Amagasaki City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. I work as a writer and editor. My hobbies include hot baths, skiing, and fishing. Although I have no personal connection, I am independently conducting research on Shiga Prefecture. I prefer an active fishing style called “RUN & GUN,” which involves moving around actively instead of staying in one place. I am planning to purchase a car to transport my bicycle to adopt this style, which might seem a bit counterproductive.

“The Kid With a Bike (Le gamin au vélo)”
The boy abandoned by his father searches for hope on a bicycle.

“The Kid With a Bike (Le gamin au vélo)” (2012, directed by the Dardenne brothers) is, as the title suggests, a story centered around a boy and his bicycle. The protagonist is Cyril, a boy living in a Belgian foster care facility. One day, his cell phone with his father suddenly goes offline. When he contacts the apartment manager, they claim that his father has moved away. He can’t believe it. His father wouldn’t just move without telling him. Moreover, his precious means of transportation, his bicycle, is still in his father’s apartment. Cyril runs away from the facility and visits the apartment, but as the manager said, his father has already moved, and there’s no sign of the bicycle. Cyril has been abandoned by his father.

#Column #Cinema
“Kids Return”
Keep pedaling towards the darkness ahead.

Director Takeshi Kitano’s works are often associated with yakuza films, perhaps due to the influence of movies like “Violent Cop” and “OUTRAGE.” However, looking at his lineup, it’s evident that he has produced a variety of styles, including “A Scene at the Sea,” “Kikujiro no Natsu,” and “Zatoichi,” amidst his violent works. Director Takeshi Kitano, along with comedian Beat Takeshi, is capable of portraying both tranquility and dynamism, representing two extremes. Among his diverse range of works, “Kids Return” (1996), which focuses on boxing, stands out as a unique piece. Depending on the viewer, generation, and background, the interpretation of the main themes, such as sports films, youth dramas, comedies, tragedies, and yakuza films, can vary significantly.

#Kids Return
Life is beautiful, and that is all.

For a certain generation, Wim Wenders is a special figure. During the era when art-house cinemas had a significant cultural impact, his films were considered “must-see movies.” Following the success of “Paris, Texas” (1985) and “Wings of Desire” (1987), Wenders’ works such as “The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick,” “Alice in the Cities,” and “Kings of the Road” were repeatedly re-released. While not necessarily fervent, Wenders’ films were quietly embraced. The influence he has had on contemporary filmmakers and visual artists is immeasurable (film students in Japan were only making road movies in the narrow confines).

#Wim Wenders