Monday, April 21, 2014

Evanston: bicycle: ride and THIEF

        Yesterday was beautiful and warm, so I dusted off our bicycles and we took the first ride of the year along the lake to Northwestern and back. Of course, everyone else wanted to be outside too after this winter of discontent, and it was no surprise that the bicycle path was a slalom course of pedestrians, children, dog walkers, and the oblivious.
        In certain light Lake Michigan looks like a tropical lagoon.  It isn’t.  One intrepid windsurfer was on his board.  It was not a day to fall off.  Only a few weeks ago that water was frozen; and it is still killing cold.
        People sitting on the grass at Northwestern
reminded me of Seurat’s, “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”,
which hangs in the Art Institute twelve miles south.  But after I looked at the painting online, that’s a stretch.
        What looks to be land beyond the windsurfer is a cloud bank.  Michigan is fifty miles distant. 

        How I had never seen THE BICYCLE THIEF,  a film on everybody’s all time greatest lists and one almost as old as I, is inexplicable.  On Friday, two days before our bike ride, I finally did.
        Directed by Vittorio de Sica in 1948, THE BICYCLE THEIF is a memorable, thought provoking, troubling film with many images that remain in the mind.
        The plot is simple.
        In post-WWII Rome dozens of men wait outside a labor exchange seeking work.  A clerk comes down exterior steps and calls two names.  One is Antonio, but the job requires a bicycle.  He says he has one, but in fact it has been pawned.
        Antonio’s wife takes the sheets off their bed and pawns them so the bicycle can be reclaimed.
        On his first day on the job, pasting movie posters to walls, the bicycle is stolen.  
        Antonio, his young son, Bruno, and some friends, search Rome for the thief.
        I’m not going to refer you to any reviews, all of which are outstanding and most of which give away the ending.  And advise you not to check Wikipedia where the plot is accurately summarized in detail.
        If you like movies, this deserves its rank among the great ones.  
        I watched streamed from Netflix.  I believe it is also shown on Turner Classic Movies.