Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Bicycle Thief That Blows

"The 400 Blows" and "The Bicycle Thief" are two films that had a huge influence on the European Movement era. The difference between the European Movement films and other narrative films are three main points: the characters have no real goal even if there is a conflict established, there are moments in the film that have no true meaning and don't move the story along, and finally they end ambiguously and don't resolve anything. Theses two films were so influential because they were the most realistic of the films out there and the most popular.

"The 400 Blows" is about the childhood of Antoine Doinel, a problem-causing little French boy who deals with abuse from his teacher and struggling with his parents to survive. Antoine makes poor decisions in school and at home resulting in more abuse, and he decides to run away. We follow him through his adventures that lead him to military school. In the ending of the film, his parents don't forgive him or show him any love or comfort. The main want for Antoine is to be understood and loved by his parents, and the conflict is that he misbehaves and runs away, but his parents don't chase after him. There is no climax because the escalation is not motivated and the want is not resolved in any way, so there is no real resolution. My thoughts of this film is that it's not a true story, but more of a hyper-realistic take on life. There is never a guaranteed happy ending in life, and a lot of times it ends poorly. A lot of people relate to this film because we all felt at some time in our childhood that we needed to run away, and we thought we were not loved by our parents. This is a very relatable film, but it is not necessarily a story, or per say, not a conventional story.

"The Bicycle Thief" is about the struggles and hard times of Antonio Ricci and his family. They are very poor and can barely put food on the table or keep a roof over their heads. Antonio is offered a job as a poster hanger, but the problem is he needs means of transportation other than walking, you guessed it, a bike. Antonio scrapes up money to purchase a bike and begins the job. As we are watching this, we know what's coming next (mostly because of the title), somebody is going to steal the bike. Before  his first day at work is over, somebody steals the bike and gets away rather easily. The rest of the film follows Antonio and his son, the cute, little Bruno on their "adventure" trying to find the bike. The clear want of this film is to find the bike, and the conflict is they have no way of finding it and if they don't, he's screwed. The entire second act and most of the third act is this "adventure" that lasts an afternoon. After a scuffle with a suspect who turns out to be innocent, the escalation escalates rather too quickly: he becomes sad a desperate and steals somebody else's bike right in front of his son. He immediately gets caught and almost gets arrested. The film ends after a final scene where Antonio and Bruno walk off into the distance depressed and have given up on finding the bike. There is clearly a want, conflict, escalation, climax, but there is absolutely no resolution. We never know if they find the bike! But in keeping with the theme of the European Movement, this film is hyper-realistic and in life there is not always a resolution or happy ending. We have all lost something and hoped to find it by searching for it, but give up after a while because we have lost hope.

The theme with these films is the sense of hyper-realism. Life is messy, there is not always a resolution or happy ending and we as humans have to deal with it. We are so used to seeing movies or hearing stories that end with some sort of resolution. That is why these films are such a culture shock, because they just end. Nothing has been resolved and there is no happy ending, that's just the way it is. That is why, in my opinion, theses films are so fantastic and are also terrible at the same time. I want there to be a story and I want it to have a happy ending/resolution. But the way it ends is why I think is fantastic, they're rebel films, they take the rules of story and throw them out the window.  Not many films that have no story are well done, but these two are, because they are strategically planned and not just put together poorly. These two films are so influential because of all these reasons, and I have great respect for the films and the directors.