Yesterday, July 7th, was the birthday anniversary of the great Italian Director and actor, Vittorio De Sica!
Vittorio De Sica was, one of the greatest neorealist filmmakers of Italy.
Begun by Roberto Rossellini’s 1945 Rome, Open City, This movement, “Italian neorealism” attempted to give cinema a new degree of realism.
“The Bicycle thieves” is probably the best neo-realist film that truly showed the backends of italian society in the 40s.
Four of the films he directed won Academy Awards: “Sciuscià” and “Bicycle Thieves” were awarded honorary Oscars, while “Ieri, oggi, domani” and “Il giardino dei Finzi Contini” won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
The great critical success of “Sciuscià” (the first foreign film to be so recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) and “Bicycle Thieves” helped establish the permanent Best Foreign Film Oscar. These two films generally are considered part of the canon of classic cinema
“The Bicycle Thieves” was cited by Turner Classic Movies as one of the 15 most influential films in cinema history.
De Sica also received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for playing Major Rinaldi in American director Charles Vidor’s 1957 adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms”.
Born into poverty in Sora, Lazio (1901), he began his career as a theatre actor in the early 1920s and joined Tatiana Pavlova’s theatre company in 1923.
In 1933 he founded his own company with his wife Giuditta Rissone and Sergio Tofano.
The company performed mostly light comedies, but they also staged plays by Beaumarchais and worked with famous directors like Luchino Visconti.
His meeting with Cesare Zavattini was a very important event: together they created some of the most celebrated films of the neorealistic age, like Sciuscià (Shoeshine) and Bicycle Thieves (released as The Bicycle Thief in America), both of which De Sica directed.
His film masterpieces are:
Sciuscià – Shoeshine
Ladri di biciclette – Bicycle Thieves, The Bicycle Thief
La Ciociara – Two Women
Ieri, oggi e domani – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Matrimonio all’italiana – Marriage Italian-Style
Miracolo a Milano – Miracle in Milan
Vittorio De Sica’s masterpiece “Ladri di biciclette”.
Rossellini, De Sica and Fellini will always be the three great pillars of Italian neorealism cinema.
Interesting trivia: Sergio Leone was an “extra” in “Bicycle Thieves”.
Vittorio De Sica died at 73 after a surgery at the Neuilly-sur-Seine hospital in Paris.
A famous quote by Vittorio De Sica:
“There is no crisis in cinema. There are negative periods. There are times when some films are received well and others aren’t. The past teaches us that some films were received badly, while others go sailing on. There are two films doing very well right now in the Italian market: One is Il gattopardo, which earns seven million lire a day, and the other is Il diavolo, starring Sordi, which earns 3 1/2 million. So there are films that are doing very well.
What I notice is that producers have been known to make errors in judgment, which have caused them to be overly daring.
For example, I’ve been told many millions were spent, somewhere around half a billion, for a film entrusted to a young person.
We must make room for young people, but with half a billion we could have made eight of Bicycle Thieves.
Experimental cinema should be inexpensive cinema. Half a billion lire should be entrusted to those professionals who we can be sure will bring home the half billion spent. We should be cautious with new initiatives. Producers should be cautious.
As for television as a competitor, yes, there I see a danger. Let television do television, let them do documentaries, but cinema as such should be shown on screens, because there’s no one more lazy than the public. When people don’t have to leave their homes, they’re very happy. A film shown in the home encourages the audience not to budge.”
Celebrating the movies and life of Vittorio De Sica!