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Cinema - Beijing Bicycle

Having your bicycle stolen is something that happens to you regularly if you cycle in a big city. It’s a horrible experience: someone has deprived you of your means of transport. You’ve come to love your bike. You feel angry, and hurt. You walk around for days afterwards looking at all the bikes, trying to spot your own: an impossible task. Then you buy a new one, and your anger fades.

This is what happens if you can afford a new one. Beijing Bicycle tells the story of a young peasant who arrives in the Chinese capital and becomes a bicycle courier: he is lent a bicycle and has to forego most of his wages to pay for it in instalments. He works hard, and gains the respect of everyone around him. But shortly before he has paid his debt off the bicycle is stolen. He loses his job. His only recourse is to try to get it back. In Beijing this is like looking for a needle in a barn full of haystacks. Miraculously, he manages. The thief is a student who needs the bicycle to increase his social status and is unwilling to part with it. The stubbornness of the two men in trying to achieve what they need is a metaphor for the class division in modern China. Beijing Bicycle is not as good a film as Vittorio di Seca’s Bicycle Thief, by which it is clearly influenced. But hell, which modern film is? This movie is a watchable slice of social realism, a fascinating view into modern Chinese society, sometimes humorous, sometimes brutal and always engaging. DL

Vicious cycle: bike wars in Beijing
All Saints Centre
When? 8pm
How Much? £3

This film is shown as part of
Lewes Film Club and ESCC cycle season.
(pdf) Click Here