De Sicca’s style is essential of pure cinema, but the significance given to mise-en-scene quite similar to a documentary is in fact contrived, for aesthetic purposes.
The character depiction of the protagonists forms the central part of the movie, even as the events unfurl in quick successions. Many sequences of the movie are perhaps interchangeable, but the entire effect created in the movie is very much indebted to the single events that serve the purpose of exposition and the construction of ideological stances. The theme of a workman (Antonio) and his small son (Bruno) searching for a stolen bicycle in post-war Italy stricken with unemployment and poverty calls for substantial ideological space than technological gimmicks. The major shift in the story and the denouement, as the disheartened workman ends up stealing a bicycle in a weak moment and is caught, brings in a moral question. The son has to witness his heretofore adorable father’s downfall and come to terms with the fact that he is a mere human being, susceptible to the disappointments and temptations of life.
De Sicca interweaves the immediate surroundings of Italian life that are captured in his frames to recreate the Post-War Industrial scenario of poverty and contrasts in living standards. Attempts at verisimilitude are successful as long as the movie maintains a balance between the characters and their surroundings. There are many sequences in the movie that are examples of the way the story has gained more meaning by the accidental events that formed a significant part of the spectacle. The scene in which the workman and the son seeks shelter from the rain and are being surrounded by the insensible young seminarians chattering, the scene inside the church, the scene in which the boy runs in front of a vehicle and has to stop as his father moves ahead unawares – all these are sufficient to prove that Bicycle Thieves is pure cinema, . .incorporating the real events into the fictional reality of it.