Robert F. Hawkins
Vittorio De Sica's latest film, Miracolo a Milano, is far from the "world" which he and co-scripter Cesare Zavattini described in The Bicycle Thief. In Miracolo De Sica and Zavattini leave behind the simple, direct approach to human problems, and attempt the difficult trick of marrying realism to fantasy. They almost succeed….
[This film], for better or for worse, swings heavily towards Zavattini's side. It is not De Sica's picture primarily, and when judgment is passed this proportion of paternity should be kept well in mind. (p. 26)
The authors intended Miracolo a Milano to be a fable told against a backdrop of the harsh realities of present-day Italian life. (p. 27)
What are De Sica and Zavattini trying to say?
Several themes seem to be combined. First, there is an exhortation to be simple in heart. Second, there is an assertion that the brotherhood of man, asked for in The Bicycle Thief, is able (by the aid of a miracle) to defeat power unjustly used. Third, the authors suggest that the good must seek peace and happiness elsewhere than in this world.
But De Sica and Zavattini commit a fundamental error when they try to apply to these moral problems their particular concepts of the poor. One of Zavattini's books is entitled The Poor Are Crazy (I poveri sono matti). And De Sica upheld a similar viewpoint while he was shooting Miracolo. "Beggars," he said to me, "are in their own way quite crazy and live in a poetic, completely happy, impractical world of their own. This is the world I want to convey in...
(The entire section is 677 words.)