Tag Archives: Vittorio De Sica

Un-Cannes-y Valley: Miracle in Milan

I have not been cagey or guarded, although I may be a tad evasive from time to time, about my feelings on the neo-realist movement. Its importance to cinematic history needs no defense from me, but whatever role they served in the late ’40s and early ’50s, the limits of their technique should not be avoided. Realism in cinema can be bracing, and it was devoutly essential in the late 1940s, but a completely tethered commitment to the style is a limit to say the least. Of all the things cinema is capable of, realism is not the only worthwhile tempo for a film to play by. The freedom of realism can and often becomes its own prison. Continue reading

Film Favorites: Bicycle Thieves

Arguably the finest example of the Italian neo-realist cinema movement during the mid-1940s, Bicycle Thieves is a fascinating and moving examination of faith, desperation, love, and society, all under the guise of a film about a man searching for his bicycle. It also re-wrote the textbook on the notion of story, emphasizing narrative feeling over plot event and exploring character and emotion in the mundane rendered dramatic through filmmaking prowess. It’s a remarkably simplistic, primal, elemental basic premise; essentially, the movie unfolds as a man and his son look for a bike that was stolen from them. It sounds like relatively light viewing initially, but Bicycle Thieves is among the most powerful explorations of the human experience essayed on film. Its seemingly simplistic nature exposes a powerful statement about post-war Italy and the heartbreaking portrayal of what desperation and fear can do to a person; it is both uniquely and earthily of its own time and location and a broadly human experience applicable to any situation. It emerges as a film of great desperation and fear, but also one of the cinema’s most profoundly humanist and even uplifting statements, all captured under Vittorio De Sica’s plaintive, mournfully poetic camera. Continue reading