EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|MIRACLE IN MILAN (MIRACOLO A MILANO) (director/writer: Vittorio De Sica; screenwriter: from the novel "Toto Il Bueno" by Cesare Zavattini/Cesare Zavattini; cinematographer: G. R. Aldo; editor: Eraldo Da Roma; music: Alessandro Cicognini; cast: Emma Gramatica ( Lolotta, The Old Woman), Francesco Golisano (Good Toto), Paolo Stoppa (The Bad Rappi ), Guglielmo Barnabò (The Rich Man), Brunella Bovo (Little Edvige), Anna Carena (Signora Altezzosa), Flora Cambi (The Unhappy Sweetheart), Erminio Spalla (Gaetano), Riccardo Bertazzolo (The Wrestler), Francesco Rissone (The Second Commander), Guglielmo Barnabo (Mobbi); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Vittorio De Sica; Criterion Collection; 1951-Italy-in Italian with English subtitles)|
|"Feel-good spiritual fantasy film."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Vittorio De Sica ("Bicycle Thieves"/"Umberto D"/"The Garden
of the Finzi-continis") uses his
neorealism style effectively as he directs this feel-good spiritual
fantasy film, which reminds me of the 1946 Capra film "It's a Wonderful
Life" and Chaplin's silent social conscious comedies with the Little
Tramp. It's about displaced persons in a shantytown, in the outskirts
of Milan, struggling to survive the post-war period. De Sica will claim
they can only be saved by a miracle brought about by divine
intervention, since the government does not serve the poor and the
capitalists are heartless. It's based on the novel "Toto Il Bueno" by Cesare
and he cowrites it with De Sica.
A kind-hearted old lady named
Lolotta (Emma Gramatica) finds
a baby in her cabbage patch, in her garden, and adopts it. A few years
later she dies and the child, Toto
(Francesco Golisano), is placed in an orphanage. When Toto
becomes of age, he's released into the cold world of reality without
any resources or home (why he doesn't inherit his adopted mom's
farmhouse cottage is never explained). The orphan's friendliness on the
street and his greetings to passers-by goes unappreciated. Then his
valise is stolen while he stops to watch a street scene. But Toto
catches the culprit, a homeless man named Alfredo (Arturo Bragaglia),
and lets him keep it after he
explains he swiped it because he was attracted to it. Alfredo in return
lets the good-hearted Toto sleep in his shelter in
the snow, located in a scrap heap lot.
Through the cheerful Toto's
organizing skills, the many homeless people living in the scrap heap
bond together and build huts in their shantytown. After the shantytown
is erected, the capitalist Mobbi (Guglielmo Barnabo) buys the land, and a spy Rappi (Paolo Stoppa) convinces the landlord to evict the
occupants after oil is discovered on the property. The day is saved
when through the ghost of Lolotta, Toto receives from an angel a
magical white dove--which grants his wish to stay in the shantytown.
But when the dove is stolen (proving that being poor doesn't make one
good), the real-estate speculator has the police evict the squatters.
Later the dove is recovered while Toto is in prison with the little
homeless child Edvige (Brunella Bovo),
and thereby Toto and Edvige fly
on a broomstick for heaven--supposedly destined for a better life.
sentimentality of this outrageous fairy-tale and the hero as an eternal
optimist believing that through love mankind can be saved, unashamedly
(or perhaps in a sarcastic cynical way) asks one to believe in this
allegorical presentation without pause--which, if taken literally,
makes it more of a kiddie pic than a convincing adult one.
REVIEWED ON 6/29/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ