Restored version of Italian classic Bicycle Thieves goes to Cannes Film Festival

Restored version of Italian classic Bicycle Thieves goes to Cannes Film Festival
A still from Ladri di biciclette, Vittoria De Sica's masterpiece. Photo: public domain/Wikimedia Commons
A 70-year-old classic of Italian cinema looks better than ever after movie experts made a restored version for this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Bicycle Thieves, directed by Vittorio De Sica in 1948, is part of the “Classics” category at the international festival, which takes place from May 8-19th.

The film, also known in English as The Bicycle Thief, is not competing to add to its already large collection of  prizes, which include an honorary Oscar awarded in 1950 before the foreign-language film category existed.

Newly restored by Bologna-based film conservation lab L'Immagine Ritrovata with support from the Istituto Luce-Cinecittà national archives in Rome, Bicycle Thieves will screen alongside freshly restored versions of other classic films including Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock, Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story and Sergio Corbucci's spaghetti western The Specialist. 

One of the most famous works of Italian cinema, Bicycle Thieves tells the story of a father looking for a job amid the poverty of post-World War Two Rome. His hopes of supporting his family depend upon a bicycle that one way or another is out of his hands, and the film depicts his increasingly desperate attempts to get it back. 

The film's understated look at the daily frustrations and injustices of working-class life, brought to life by untrained actors drawn from the streets of Rome, quickly made it one of the defining films of the neorealism movement that aimed to tell the harsh truth of life in Italy immediately after the war. 

Seventy years on, it regularly makes critics' lists of the best films ever made. 

Watch an excerpt from the restored version here:

Contemporary Italian cinema will also get screen time at this year's Cannes festival. A total of seven Italian directors are showing their work, including two in the main competition.
Alice Rohrwacher, who won the Grand Prix with The Wonders four years ago, is hoping for another success with Happy as Lazzaro, the tale of the unlikely friendship between a young peasant and a nobleman.
Meanwhile Matteo Garrone, who directed the Neapolitan mafia drama Gomorrah as well as the fantastical Tale of Tales, is competing with Dogman, the true story of a gruesome murder carried out by a Rome dog groomer. 
One big name that's not on the list, however, is Paolo Sorrentino: the Oscar-winning director of The Great Beauty had hoped to enter his two-part Silvio Berlusconi biopic Loro, but didn't make the festival's cut.