Italian director Vittorio De Sica's neorealist masterpiece Bicycle Thieves, which won an Academy Honorary Award at the 1950 Oscars, is considered one of the best movies ever made.
It tells the story of Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani), an unemployed father in post-World War II Rome, who finally finds a job putting up advertising posters, only to see his bicycle stolen and his hopes of a better future for his family dashed.
When the authorities prove to be useless, Antonio embarks with his son Bruno (played remarkably by young Enzo Staiola) on a search for the bicycle on the streets of Rome. Despite several sightings, the thief keeps eluding them, and the prospects of finding the bike are looking more and more grim.
A welcome respite from the frustrating search comes in the form of a father-son bonding lunch at a restaurant, where Antonio treats Bruno to a "mozzarella in carrozza" (cheese sandwich). "There's a solution to everything..." says Antonio, "except death."
Bruno revels in the stringy mozzarella, but his pleasure is soon dampened when he spots at the table behind them a rich family enjoying a much larger, fancier meal.
"To eat like them, we'd have to earn a million a month," his father says, as Bruno puts the sandwich back down on the plate. Antonio encourages him: "Eat up, don't worry."
Despite being only a few minutes' long, this lunch scene encapsulates the movie's themes, giving us an insight into the father-son relationship, while highlighting the significant social disparities prevalent at the time.
Bicycle Thieves is a beautiful, poignant movie that should be on the bucket list of any cinema lover. (It is one of David Stratton's Top 10 SBS movies.)
What better way to accompany this visual treat than with another Italian classic – the Arancini. This popular snack is a deep-fried rice ball, which can be found with all sorts of fillings. Here of course, it's filled with mozzarella cheese as an homage to Bruno's gooey snack.
Find this recipe at SBS Food
Watch Bicycle Thieves in full at SBS On Demand: