THE BICYCLE THIEF (1948)

The hallmark of the Italian neorealism genre is to take the ordinary and evoke feelings to believe in the meaning of our lives as they are, rather than create belief in our fantasized endings to stories.  The film offers a poignant example of the every day sacredness that Fr Dennis so often tried to share with us in film and poetry. 

The film director, Vittorio DeSica, once again went with “real” people, rather than actors — in fact, one potential funder wanted Cary Grant to play the lead character, the father/husband, Antonio Ricci.  Instead, a working man and a newspaper boy from the Rome streets, both amateurs, were cast as the father-son combination to great effect.  The actor who played the wife/mom worked in the arts, though she also acted in three films total. The young boy grew up to be a math teacher!

You may recall in 2014, we watched Fellini’s LA STRADA (1954), which broke from the strict social reality foundation of Italian neorealism.  THE BICYCLE THIEF was filmed and released in 1948, closer to the consequences of WWII and hews more tightly to the characteristics of the genre.  Fellini’s creativity tended to cross, blend, and defy genres.

I’ll offer my thoughts below on some of my favorite or standout moments of Eucharist, reconciliation, and more couched in the everyday affairs of a struggling Italian family.

Joyfully Dipping a Toe into The Surest Sign

The French Jesuit, Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ, once wrote, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.”

My experience bears out this insight, and I find seriousness of purpose obscures my relationship with God. The self-importance of undertaking a purpose and identity as a “human doing” weighs down the joy and relationship with God as a “human being.”

In Genesis 3:8-9, God is walking in the garden of Eden at “the breezy time of day,” expecting Adam and Eve (3:9, “Where are you?”). Such a tender thought that God most enjoyed walking about Creation with the Created!

So with some theological reflection, humor, poetry, film, and other arts, I hope to renew my presence in God, with the surest sign, joy, in its many forms. My hope is that this site might be the same for your spirit, too.

“Infallible sign” seemed a little high falutin’ for me, even if it was just right for Fr Chardin! So … “the surest sign,” it is!