- 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)
Criterion Collection: Death of a Cyclist [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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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
Top Customer Reviews
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
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
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.
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.
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.