Europa Cinema > 16:00


Vittorio De Sica


Sunday 26/06/2022


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Sergei Eisenstein emphasized “the look of the child” in his essay Charlie the Kid. That is also the core of the mise en scène of Vittorio De Sica in his first three significant films as a director (I bambini ci guardano, Sciuscià, Ladri di biciclette) and to some extent his fourth one, Miracolo a Milano.
In Sciuscià, war, having brought about a huge growth of the lumpenproletariat, is now being continued in other forms, as a street war in the urban jungle. Situations that the state, the bureaucracy and the prison system submit people to that are profoundly and inhumanly absurd with respect to the look of the child.
Whereas the accusation in I bambini ci guardano was directed at the parents, it is here transferred to the machinery of the society. Against the background of a cruel statement is a constantly marvellous purity of observation. When a film screening – consisting of poor war newsreels – takes place at the prison, a little tubercular boy is ecstatic: “There is the ocean”. He has but a few more moments to live. The ephemeral moving image may amount to next to nothing, but filtered through the boy’s consciousness, this flash of nature recorded on film becomes durable testimony that life is precious and even the most disadvantaged person has not lived in vain.

The true subject matter of Sciuscià is the friendship between Pasquale and Giuseppe. It sustains insurmountable adversities and finally transcends a death that happens by accident and is pitilessly cruel in its very arbitrariness. The depth of the emotion between the boys – testified to by the destructive intensity of their conflict – is the measure of all things.

The white horse bought by the boys signifies the absolute finality of their bond. For others it is a mere commercial contract to be brokered at will. Sciuscià is a new version about the two worlds of Jean Vigo – One, the world of the grownups and their war, fascism and corruption has been depicted in terms of a cool mundane realism, sometimes as a comic trifle; and then the world of the children is largely invisible, hidden, a dream. It can be experienced on their faces or in images conceived in the strange chiaroscuro of a legend. The vision of the two boys in the forest on the back of a white horse is like a fairytale hovering over evil times.

Peter von Bagh, Taikayö [A Night of Magic], Love Kirjat, Helsinki 1981 (translated by Antti Alanen)


Cast and Credits

Sog.,Scen.: Sergio Amidei, Adolfo Franci, Cesare Giulio Viola, Cesare Zavattini. F.: Anchise Brizzi. M.: Nicolò Lazzari. Scgf.: Ivo Battelli. Mus.: Alessandro Cicognini. Int.: Franco Interlenghi (Pasquale), Rinaldo Smordoni (Giuseppe), Aniello Mele (Raffaele), Bruno Ortensi (Arcangeli), Emilio Cigoli (Staffera), Gino Saltamerenda (Panza), Anna Pedoni (Nannarella), Leo Garavaglia (commissario di P.S.), Enrico De Silva (Giorgio), Antonio Lo Nigro (Righetto). Prod.: Paolo William Tamburella per Alfa Cinematografica. DCP. D.: 93’. Bn.