To our friends following Movies in the Mountains. We had planned to screen “Miracle in Milan” at the East Mountain Public Library during the 2020 or 2021 season. But of course, live presentations are not desirable or likely in the foreseeable future. So I hope you watch it free on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PUKkDAfTs0&list=PLFsB_zf_0ZF3Q-ViMdh1GNTSSn5xBjOki&ab_channel=F%C3%A1bioRibeiro

“Miracle in Milan” is among our all-time favorite films and receives a 100% rating from Rotten Tomatoes critics and 90% from its audiences, while IMDB ranks it at 7.7—well above average.

Directed by Italy’s great Vittoria de Sica and written by his movie partner, Cesare Zavattini, who adapted it from his novel, it is a humanist fable in spirit and neo-realist in manner: moving—sad, inspiring and joyous in turn, the film is stirred by hope, compassion and decency. It is, to my mind a perfect film—and one of the more unusual ever made.

“Miracle in Milan” was filmed in 1950 amid the bombed ruins, devastating poverty that included homelessness among its people—all lingering after effects of World War II, mostly in and around Milan, Italy, with several scenes shot in Florence.

Although Italy had surrendered to the Allies in 1943 and Mussolini had been shot and hung, head down, alongside his mistress in Milan, ongoing battles continued until 1945 between Nazis and Italian troops loyal to them and anti-Nazi Italians pledged to the Allied Forces.

It takes nothing away from the genius of Vittorio De Sica or Cesare Zavattini to note they did not have to conjure scenes of destruction already wrought four years earlier and yet to be rebuilt, or to costume starving and war-weary extras. All they needed to do was tell their masterful cinematographer Aldo Graziati when and where to point the camera.

The artistic, intellectual New Italian Left promoted a new didactic, anti-capitalist vision in strong contrast to the bland, superficial, ‘everything-is-peachy’ propaganda of Fascist Italy’s “white telephone” cinema.

Post-WWII Italy’s movie industry was shattered, and leftist Italian film intellectuals realized their chance and grabbed it. Many had been film critics and theoreticians who eagerly became filmmakers: Zavattini, De Sica, Rossellini, Visconti and Fellini among them. In terms of artistic aspiration, Italian Neo Realism was a companion movement to French New Wave Cinema, but the Italian cinema did not become quite as secular as France’s, and Vittoria de Sica did not linger long within any political ‘ideal.’

Movies in the Mountains in Exile is presented for The Independent by American Vaudeville Museum. Send inquiries and comments to announcements@vaudeville.org.

Frank Cullen
Frank Cullen