A unique exploration of the history of the bicycle in cinema, from Hollywood blockbusters and slapstick comedies to documentaries, realist dramas, and experimental films.
Cycling and Cinema explores the history of the bicycle in cinema from the late nineteenth century through to the present day. In this new book from Goldsmiths Press, Bruce Bennett examines a wide variety of films from around the world, ranging from Hollywood blockbusters and slapstick comedies to documentaries, realist dramas, and experimental films, to consider the complex, shifting cultural significance of the bicycle.
The bicycle is an everyday technology, but in examining the ways in which bicycles are used in films, Bennett reveals the rich social and cultural importance of this apparently unremarkable machine. The cinematic bicycles discussed in this book have various functions. They are the source of absurd comedy in silent films, and the vehicles that allow their owners to work in sports films and social realist cinema. They are a means of independence and escape for children in melodramas and kids’ films, and the tools that offer political agency and freedom to women, as depicted in films from around the world.
In recounting the cinematic history of the bicycle, Bennett reminds us that this machine is not just a practical means of transport or a child’s toy, but the vehicle for a wide range of meanings concerning individual identity, social class, nationhood and belonging, family, gender, and sexuality and pleasure. As this book shows, two hundred years on from its invention, the bicycle is a revolutionary technology that retains the power to transform the world.