Scene Analysis- Bicycle Thieves

November 17, 2009

The scene in “Bicycle Thieves” where the protagonist, Antonio, is reporting the incident to an officer at the police station is exemplary of Italian Neorealism in several ways.

Beginning with techniques, all of the characters in the scene are played by regular men, not actors. The lighting is dark because it was filmed on location. Also, there is more than one instance of mise-en-scene. A notably effective use of mise-en-scene was a part of the seen where Antonio is being told there is nothing the police can do for him. The shot is static and is a medium close up of Antonio. Even though he and the officer are engaged in dialogue, the camera stays on Antonio, capturing his reactions to the officer’s dismissal of his problem.

In terms of plot, this scene shows the depressing situation Antonio is in. In particular, there is one point when another officer comes up to the officer who took Antonio’s complaint and asks in front of Antonio, “Anything?” And the officer who took Antonio’s complaint replied, “Nothing. Just a bicycle.” This line is especially in the style of Italian Neorealism because it expresses the cruelty of life. Antonio’s job depends on this bike, so it is extremely important to him, but his problem is dismissed by the officer. Also, the police station seems to be busy with activity, without being frantic, to indicate that there is enough crime going on in the city to keep them very busy, but nothing so important that urgency is required.

While this scene is one of the first steps Antonio takes to recover his bike, it shows the doom and gloom of his situation and the era expressed through Italian Neorealism.


1 MCU, Static; Antonio is sitting, just finishing reporting the incident; 4 sec.

2 Two Shot/MCU/TU, The officer stands/the camera follows his movement; The officer is distracted; 7 sec

3 PL/TD, The officer walks to the window and looks down/ camera follows his movement; The officer is told he has to go to a meeting; 12 sec.

4 DR, Following the movement of the officer; The officer returns to Antonio, 4 sec

5 Two Shot/MCU/ PR, Static, then officer moves; Antonio signs his statement and is told nothing can be done, 11 sec

6 MCU, Static; Antonio is asking the officer (who is out of the frame) to help him, 15 sec

7 PL, Two Shot/MCU, PR, Officer moves to Antonio, Static, Antonio leaves; The officer encourages Antonio to look for it himself, Antonio exits slowly, 27 sec


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