The message of the film, on the other hand, is not quite difficult. Antonio, who is not a perfect man but a pleasant man with a nice temper, becomes devastated with his loss of his bicycle. Society being the criminal, who had caused Italians to ‘have to steal’ from others, Antonio rejects immoral choices in the beginning and tries to find his bicycle the “good guy” way. However, his inability to do so gives a turn to the story. Antonio, discouraged by the theft and apparent unemployment of the future, becomes a different man.
Desperation causes him to go to the foreseer, whom he had neglected as mere cheat, and seek guidance. Because the audience, like Antonio, is not part of the Italian crowd portrayed, Antonio’s taint by the society emits rejection as well as sympathy. A morality play, indeed, the film then puts the converted Antonio on the verge of moral dilemma: “to steal or not to steal. ” His contemplation in front of the bicycle and his desperation that pushes him to commit crime before the eyes of his very son poses a striking image of social moral collapse.The film seems to blame the society, while not glorifying Antonio and his action.
Bicycle Thieves’ true value comes from its commitment to show the crude nature of the society. While not a documentary, the film captures the essence of postwar society, dysfunctional, disfigured and dismantled. The moral dilemma that Antonio is pushed upon shows how painful the society had become. But the film is not merely a propaganda against Capitalism; it still lets the audience decide, with its characteristic of an open ending.