Vittorio De Sica Gwenneth Britt - Essay

Gwenneth Britt

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

According to Stanley Kauffmann, scriptwriter Cesare Zavattini and director Vittorio de Sica got their ideas for depicting contemporary youth in A Young World by visiting the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris and there looking at nouvelle vagueeries.

Critic Kauffmann regards as sad this stategem by which two sixty-four-year-olds hoped to disguise the second-hand quality of their projected truckle to the most numerous portion of today's movie-goers (the young).

I don't think it's any sadder than what de Sica and Zavattini have been doing throughout their entire collaboration, and in saying this I do include Shoeshine, The Bicycle Thief, Miracle in Milan, Umberto D and all their other films. Seen today, without the intellectual hoopla with which they were launched, and subsequently promoted in leftist-dominated film societies, all Zavattini-Sica films have the same basic faults as their latest, A Young World, does—i.e., a conscienceless use of hackneyed sentimentality peppered with slogans and "business" calculated to win friends in Left, Right and Center, the Church, and every minority. (p. 380)

[If] you'd really like to know the lengths to which Zavattini and de Sica go to recruit any organized group in support of their films, study the abortionists in A Young World. They are lesbians. Having lesbians be abortionists will amuse a certain sector of today's intelligentsia, but, lest the lesbian-international take offense, Z and de S top it by putting a copy of a well-known book on the desk of one of them so the audience will not write them off as ignorant abortionists.

The title of the book they selected gave me a laugh (de Sica deliberately let the camera go to it). It is [Marcel] Proust's A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. (p. 381)

Gwenneth Britt, "Film Reviews: 'A Young World'," in Films in Review (copyright © 1966 by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, Inc.), Vol. 17, No. 6, June-July, 1966, pp. 380-81.