Vittorio de Sica, Miracle in Milan film: BFI Southbank
A shift in tone from his earlier works, this film has more charm and eccentricity than the other post war films in de Sica's repertoire. A bizarre realist fantasy, Miracle in Milan tells the story of a kind old woman, Lolotta (Emma Gramatica) who, on discovering a baby hidden in her cabbage patch, raises him as her own.
An Italian neorealist film
When Lolotta dies the now young boy Totò (Francesco Golisano) is forced into orphanages, and from there, into the streets of Italy. At eighteen, he falls in with a group of disenfranchised homeless in a suburban shanty: when the ghost of his lost mother appears, to grant Totò's wishes to help the dispossessed, Totò takes on a Christ-like persona, liberating his peers from the tragedy of their circumstances.
Unconventional lightness of touch
A Slumdog Millionaire of post war Italian cinema, Miracle in Milan is a fable of human endeavour. Written by often-time collaborator Cesare Zavattini, the film continues in the vein of his earlier works of neo realist cinema with de Sica, exploring economic instability in the framework of catholicism and capitalism, and rife with political polemic.
The film has a contemporaneous feel: its final scene, showing a pair of orphans taking off on magic broomsticks, influenced the likes of Spielberg's E.T.
Whilst Miracle in Milan has more comedy at its heart than many of de Sica's later works and retains the lightness of touch from his days as matinee cinema's heart-throb, an underlying sense of barbarity peppers Miracle in Milan's narrative.
De Sica's film shows intense understanding of human fallibility and the political struggles in a stringently religious society. A under-appreciated classic.
Looking for more?
Read our selection of films in the Vittorio de Sica retrospective
|What||Miracle in Milan, Vittorio de Sica BFI Film Season|
|Where||BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, Southbank, London, SE1 8XT | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
On 08 Aug 15, 3:50 PM – 5:40 PM
On 10 Aug 15, 8:45 PM – 10:15 PM
|Website||Click here to go to the BFI website.|