Figure i. Bicycle Thieves (DeSica 1948)
“Viewed in this perspective, cinema is objectivity in time” (Bazin 1967).
In the first few weeks of this module, the viewing that generated the most interest for me was Vittorio DeSica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948). It might seem strange that I have chosen to focus on this movie, as my first reaction to viewing the film was ambivalent. While I appreciated the importance of the movie and its contribution to cinematic history, my engagement with it was distanced and academic. It didn’t evoke a strong emotional reaction in me, which slightly unnerved me as one of the things I knew about the movie through cultural osmosis was that it was a sad, tragic film. I questioned myself; had I missed an integral part of the film? Was there something wrong with me?
Likewise, when I was first introduced to the realist school of film theory, I struggled to consider the value of cinema as an empirical, objective medium where reality can be totally replicated on screen. For a medium as constructed as narrative film, I saw it as ingrained with the subjectivity of those controlling the camera, calling the very notion of realism into question in that what is reflected was not objective reality, therefore for me, there was a flaw in the central thesis.Read more