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