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Criterion Collection: Death of a Cyclist [DVD] [1955] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: Spanish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: NR (Not Rated) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: 22 April 2008
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0012Z362Q
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,270 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Upper-class geometry professor Juan and his wealthy married mistress Maria Jose driving back from a late-night rendezvous accidentally hit a cyclist and run. The resulting exquisitely shot tale of guilt infidelity and blackmail reveals the wide gap between the rich and the poor in Spain and surveys the corrupt ethics of a society seduced by decadence. Juan Antonio Bardem's charged melodrama Death of a Cyclist (Muerte de un ciclista) was a direct attack on 1950s Spanish society under Franco's rule. Though it was ultimately affected by the dictates of censorship the film's sting could never be dulled.SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:New restored high-definition digital transferCalle Bardem (2005) a documentary on the revolutionary life and career of director Juan Antonio BardemTheatrical trailerNew and improved English subtitle translationPLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by scholar Marsha Kinder and a 1955 essay by Bardem on Spanish cinemaSystem Requirements:LENGTH: 87 minutesFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: DRAMA/MELODRAMA UPC: 715515028622 Manufacturer No: CC1744DDVD

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
A mix of noir psychological thriller and political examination of class and privilege
in Franco's Spain, this reminded me as much as anything of Antonioni's `Story of a Love
Affair', although I liked this even more. For me there were more thematic and emotional
levels explored in more interesting ways.

The film is beautifully made with a striking use of transitions to keep us off base, and
an alternating mix of neo-realist, and slick Hitchcockian camera work that evokes the
separation of class in society.

The story is simple. A pair of upper-class lovers accidentally hit a cyclist on the highway,
and leave him to die, for fear of being discovered as lovers and losing all they have in society
and with each other.

The rest of the film is about both the moral questions of responsibility and ego versus a sense
of communal responsibility, and the gut wracking tension as to whether the two will
be discovered.

I was occasionally bothered by the heavy handedness of some of the film. Sometimes it
was just a too on-the-nose politically ironic line, but particularly an important sub-plot
about a student the male half of our anti-hero couple, has treated unfairly. This sub-plot,
while beautifully shot and well acted, feels like it exists only to make political and thematic
points, and pulled me out of identifying with the film on a human level. Likewise, a couple
of crucial character twists, while interesting, feel forced or sudden -- more there to make a
point then to honestly continue the narrative.

But these are small flaws compared to the film's great strengths, and it is very much worth seeing.
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Format: DVD
J. A. Bardem, uncle of today more famous actor Javier Bardem was an excellent director at times of Spanish postwar: he was a communist and in spite of censorship, made at less two masterpieces of cinema. One is "Death of a cyclist".
Bardem deals here with the vices of the accommodate society which won the Spanish Civil War. Juan, a mathematics professor from the University of Madrid isn't absolutely motivated by his work. He has got his post because he's an ex- combatant of Franco's army and member of a distinguished family but he perceives vaguely how empty and closed is that society. So, mostly bored and thinking himself is a worthless man, he becomes lover of Maria, an old bride from the pre - war and now, the wife of a rich businessman from that high society. A society that passes his time in false charity parties and so on.
But one day at dawn, after these lovers have spend the night together, they drive his car by the slums of Madrid and in the twilight they trample to a cyclist, a poor man who goes to his work. They doesn't know if the cyclist is wounded or dead, but at these moment, nobody sees the accident as the streets are absolutely alone and the city still asleep. Under other circumstances they should have helped the cyclist, but the fear to scandal in such a close society for adultery imposes to them and they run away while the cyclist dies.
But soon, remorse made his prey in the soul of Juan, while Maria is only worried about his social position.
But there's also Rafael, a cynical critic of art. Rafael isn't rich. He's a resented man who lives as a parasite of the social circle of these lovers. He knows Juan and Maria are committing adultery, but he doesn't know nothing about the crime.
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Format: DVD
Criterion's release of films of long-ago classics of film-making continues.This film by Bardem is a black and white morality tale by a communist director in a country with a fascist dictatorship,whose censorship had crippled the art of cinema and any progressive analysis of the situation.This is film as political weapon hidden under the cloak of metaphor.His call to arms,issued at Salamanca in 1955,is to his fellow directors.The film opens with lovers Juan (Alberto Closas) and Maria José (Lucia Bosé). Maria is behind the wheel of her car, colliding (unseen) into a man(also,tellingly,unseen) bicycling on a lonely stretch of country road.This pivotal moment highlights the divisions between the rich and the poor.The lovers pull up see the dying man and she calls Juan away.The faster they flee,the more the act follows them.This film has content:morality, conscience,guilt,fear of loss of status. Bardem shows us the rot at the core of Spanish ruling-class life, as if in a Jacobean tragedy.He uses neo-noir elements,post-neo-realism cum Hitchcockian melodrama.

She is a society hostess married to the rich man, Miguel(similar looking to Juan).She loves her creature comforts, but also her infidelity with Juan,a professor of maths,who she used to be engaged to prior to marriage.Juan is economically and professionally dependent upon his wealthy brother-in-law,who got him the job.The viper in their bosom is Rafael,the parasitical art critic and court jester,who divulges he `knows' about them,having seen them that day in the car together,and threatens blackmail.His sarcasm and irony heats up a brew of satire,revenge, paranoia and suspicion.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars 14 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful thriller about morality and class 4 Oct. 2011
By KG - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A mix of noir psychological thriller and political examination of class and privilege in Franco's Spain, this reminded me as much as anything of Antonioni's `Story of a Love Affair', although I liked this even more. For me this film had more thematic and emotional levels explored in more interesting ways.

Beautifully made with a striking use of transitions to keep us off base, and an alternating mix of neo-realist, and slick Hitchcockian camera work that evokes the separation of class in society.

The story is simple. A pair of upper-class lovers accidentally hit a cyclist on the highway, and leave him to die, for fear of having their affair discovered and losing all they have in society and with each other.

The rest of the film is about both the moral questions of responsibility and ego versus a sense of communal responsibility, and the gut wracking tension as to whether the two will be uncovered.

I was occasionally bothered by the heavy-handedness of some of the film. Sometimes it was just a too on-the-nose, politically ironic line of dialogue, but particularly irksome was an important sub-plot about a student the male half of our anti-hero couple has treated unfairly. This story element, while beautifully shot and well acted, feels like it exists only to make political and thematic points, and pulled me out of identifying with the film on a human level. Likewise, a couple of crucial character twists, while interesting, feel forced or sudden -- more there to make a point then to honestly continue the narrative.

But these are really very small flaws compared to the film's great strengths, and it is very much worth seeing.
4.0 out of 5 stars Death of a Cyclist 28 July 2008
By MarkusG - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Death of a Cyclist, from 1955, is a thriller and a moral drama. Two lovers, Juan and Maria, accidentally hit a cyclist with their car, and have to flee the crime scene afraid of their illicit affair being revealed. They are part of high society: Maria is the wife of a very rich man, and Juan is a math professor, and they decide they have very much to lose: each other and their social status. Early on they get hints from another man that he knows, but exactly what he knows and what he wants is unclear.
The plot is very suspensive and contains some twists reminiscent of Hitchcock; the camerawork is competent, though the acting is maybe a little stiff (maybe typical for 1950s cinema?).
The moral dimension is interesting, with Juan who sees himself as a failure, economically and professionally, as he is dependent on influental relatives. The accident and his moral failure makes him re-evaluate his life. And Maria is confronted with her strong desire for status. In the films opening scene they choose to leave the cyclist in the ditch, dying.
The transfer from Criterion is excellent, and there are some extras: a documentary about Bardem and a informative booklet. The film is said to be a standard ingredient in cinema studies, and finally it is available on DVD. Recommended to everyone interested in cinema, and/or some suspense.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decadence is beautiful 27 Oct. 2008
By Manuel Pestalozzi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful black and white movie with beautiful people. Its undisputed star, Italian actress Lucia Bose, plays exactly the same character like in Michelangelo Antonioni's "Cronada di un amore" - a dissatisfied egotistical trophy wife of a captain of industry and trade. The noirish plot (cover up of an accident by the Bose character and her lover) gets a political slant as the distracted lover, a mathematician shoved into a position at university by influential relatives, does not pay attention to a woman student and let her fail at an exam. This leads to (comparatively tame) student riots in which the (stunningly well groomed) students ask for the lover's head. The dissatisfaction with social conditions in Spain of the 1950 permeates this movie. The settings in wintry Madrid (and surroundings) will haunt the viewer for a long time. The final scenes are pretty campy but the overall impression is a good one.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Screen narrative at its best 11 April 2012
By Howard C. Runyon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
[written from point of view of a cinephile & Spanish-language teacher]

A tremendous piece of cinema, beautifully written, beautifully shot, and beautifully acted. It's also a rich piece of dramatic literature for reading and discussion in an advanced language class. Only when I started transcribing scenes for my class did I notice how spare and dense the writing is; it would be hard to find another sound picture that establishes characters and puts them onto seemingly inevitable paths with so little dialogue. Great stuff, and loaded with clearly spoken Spanish idioms that make good fodder for a language class.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun 11 Aug. 2015
By aop - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
A movie well done.Like many older movies it can be slow at times,but the plot is ok.A better selection than many of the popular productions of today.Good way to spend an evening at home with dinner and a glass of wine.
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