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Boy and Bicycle (1965)


Main image of Boy and Bicycle (1965)
16mm, black and white, 25 mins
DirectorRidley Scott
Production CompanyBFI Experimental Film Fund
ProducerRidley Scott
Written byRidley Scott
Theme MusicJohn Barry

Cast: Tony Scott (The Schoolboy)

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The adventures of a truant schoolboy cycling around the English town of Hartlepool in the north-eastern county of Cleveland.

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Boy and Bicycle was Ridley Scott's first foray into filmmaking, made initially on a budget of £65 using a Bolex 16mm cine-camera, borrowed from the Royal College of Art in London, where he was a student. Shot over a period of six weeks in the early 1960s, the film was eventually completed in 1965 when Scott finished the post-production sound with a grant provided by the BFI's Experimental Film Fund.

Opening in Scott's own teenage bedroom, Boy and Bicycle begins with the camera representing the point of view of the boy (played by Scott's younger brother Tony, who would also become a film-maker) as he wakes up and looks around his room, thinking about the day ahead. The film then follows the boy as he decides instead to play truant and visits various locations around the seaside town on his bicycle. All the while we listen to his thoughts in a stream of consciousness voice-over that Scott has said was partly inspired by reading James Joyce's Ulysses (1922).

The voice-over reveals the frustrations of a growing teenager and mocks the authority figures in his life such as his teachers and parents. Scott storyboarded in detail before shooting, and he includes many visual elements that add texture to the film: a dead dog, the sun darkened by ominous storm clouds, and the eerie barrenness of the beach, which Scott has said was an homage to Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet, Sweden, 1956).

During post-production, Scott was lucky to acquire the services of the composer John Barry. Although Scott could not afford the rights to the recording he wanted, Barry generously agreed to record a new version of the piece, and his music adds a lyrical, life-affirming quality to the film.

David Morrison

*This film is available on BFI DVD and Blu-ray.

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Video Clips
Complete film (26:43)
Extract (2:15)
Production stills
Barry, John (1933-2011)
Scott, Ridley (1937-)
Children on Film
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