Bike Movies by Greg Borzo
- Title: Beijing Bicycle
- Year Released: 2001
- Duration: 113 minutes
- Language: Mandarin
- Bike Content: 10/10 wheels
- Overall Rating: 7/10 stars
Beijing Bicycle is a fabulous film, with thousands of bicycles used throughout in myriad ways: to stalk and chase; to impress girls and intimidate rivals; to get around and get away.
Bikes set the cadence of this emotional, artistically filmed story. In one scene, a bike wheel is used to frame a pensive moment. In other scenes, rolling bikes pace the film with slow romantic rides, slogs through traffic, exuberant love-inspired spins and vicious pursuits. In between these highpoints, the film shows waves of bikes steadily rolling along indicating that the world beyond the main characters’ lives continues to turn, continues to cycle.
Beijing Bicycle tells the story of Guo, a country boy determined to make it in the big city. He lands a job as a messenger, but Guo’s struggles entail a lot more than finding and holding a job. He’s constantly learning about urban life, from how to get through a revolving door to the need to brush his teeth. Confrontations and challenges bombard the bewildered boy.
The dominant theme of the story is Guo’s attachment to his steed. In his highly principled but naïve fashion, Guo is determined not to let a thief, liar or gang take his two-wheeler. The hero hangs on to his bike for his life.
Note: Beijing Bicycle is not a remake of the classic The Bicycle Thief, a comparatively simple tale focused on class, poverty and family. Beijing Bicycle is more complex, touching on those themes, but also exploring friendship, honesty, assimilation, the folly of youth, opportunity, stubbornness, intimidation, status, coming of age, violence, identity, dignity and determination.
The film doubles as an urban travelogue, documenting how important bikes were in China – something that is dwindling away today.