The bicycle in the movies
Travelling by bike but from the comfort of our sofa: below we list movies cycling fans cannot miss, one per genre.
The Bicycle Thieves – 1948, by Vittorio De Sica – DRAMA.
Based on the novel (1946) by Luigi Bartolini, and adapted for the larger screen by Cesare Zavattini, it is considered a masterpiece of Italian neorealism. A raw story, which highlights Italy after World War II and its ruins. The stars of the movie are the city of Rome - with its half-empty, wide, monumental streets, in contrast with the current urbanization of the capital- and the bicycle, a popular means of transport and a vital element for survival for the protagonist. De Sica wrote a piece of Italian history and takes us back into time, to an Italy which is trying to recover from misery. Genuine, poignant, true. A must see.
The Triplets of Belleville – 2003, by Sylvain Chomet – ANIMATION.
The movie has a vintage feel, little dialogue, and all in pantomime. Madame Souza has an unhappy grandson and tries to make him feel better. After failing various times, she finally manages thanks to a tricycle. This is how Champion’s love for cycling starts, leading him even to participate in the Tour of France. But a kidnaping upsets these plans…A true masterpiece of animation, refined and culturally acute: try to find the numerous references ranging from Coppi to Fred Astaire, and from Walt Disney to Robert Zemeckis!
A Sunday in Hell – 1976, by Jørgen Leth – DOCUMENTARY.
A Danish documentary about the Paris-Roubaix in 1976. This piece of history, one of the most legendary cycling races, is told on the big screen. It is also called “the hell of the North” for the difficulty of the route. It is characterized by the cobblestones which are rendered even more dangerous because of the climate, causing a never-ending array of slips, punctures, and mechanical failures. The documentary shows the protagonists of road cycling in the ‘70s, and focuses on the competition between Eddy Merckx, Roger de Vlaeminck, Freddy Maertens and Francesco Moser.
Premium Rush – 2012, by David Koepp – ACTION.
Wilee, the main character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is a bike messenger in New York. He is given the task of delivering an envelope within 90 minutes at an address in Chinatown. Wilee uses a bike with a frame in aluminum, fixed gear and no brakes, and has no fear in traffic. When a corrupt policeman tries to get his hands on the envelope the delivery becomes a true race against time, with wild chases and incredible action on the streets of the Big Apple. “I like to ride. Fixed gear. No brakes”.
Toto tours Italy – 1948, di Mario Mattoli – COMMEDIA.
We have discussed a documentary, a cartoon, and an action movie. But we couldn’t leave out Totò! Professor Casamandrei finds himself alongside Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi, and Louison Bobet, ready to race for the pink shirt. The professor is bearded and everything but athletic. He starts off on a crazy ride of pure comedy giving a sense of another era and featuring the true stars of cycling.