The Children Are Watching Us (Criterion Collection)
|Price:||CDN$ 32.99 & FREE Shipping. Details|
In his first collaboration with renowned screenwriter and longtime partner Cesare Zavattini, Vittoria De Sica examines the cataclysmic consequences of adult folly on an innocent child. Heralding the pair's subsequent work on some of the masterpieces of Italian neorealism, The Children Are Watching Us is a deeply humane, vivid portrait of one family's disintegration.
Vittoria De Sica's mastery of neorealism was already well apparent in 1944's The Children Are Watching Us, an excellent, emotionally devastating drama that marked De Sica's first collaboration with renowned screenwriter and longtime partner Cesare Zavattini. While not as well known as De Sica's later masterpieces The Bicycle Thief (1948) and Umberto D. (1952), the film shares many of De Sica's stylistic trademarks, beginning with his exquisite use of real Italian locations in telling the story of Pricò, an observant and inquisitive 4-year-old boy who bears silent witness to his mother's infidelity and the subsequent collapse of his parents' marriage. Like Carol Reed's thematically similar classic The Fallen Idol, De Sica's film is seen almost exclusively through the eyes and perception of this innocent young boy, and the frank treatment of adultery and its effect on Pricò was considered quite shocking for Italian audiences who were emphatically concerned with the sanctity of childhood. What seems dramatically tame by modern standards still retains much of its power, notably due to the remarkable performance of Luciano De Ambrosis, who was barely five years old when the film was shot in the summer of 1942, just before the violence of World War II would erupt all over Italy.
In combining empathy for his characters with the graceful sentimentality that would be refined in his later classics, De Sica refrains from judging the weaknesses of Pricò's parents, both of whom love the boy equally but are ill-equipped to avoid the disintegration of the relationship. This places Pricò in the middle of a gut-wrenching dilemma, and the boy responds with understandable grief and confusion. In running away, he shifts the story toward a heartbreaking conclusion, lending substance to the film's alternate title (The Little Martyr) with a final image that's simply unforgettable. Criterion's exquisite DVD release presents this potent drama in a new, fully restored high-definition digital transfer, and includes illuminating video interviews with De Ambrosis (well into his sixties, with vivid memories of working with De Sica) and De Sica film scholar Callisto Cosulich. The 24-page booklet features mini-essays by film scholar Peter Brunette (writing about The Children Are Watching Us) and film critic Stuart Klawans on the unique collaboration of De Sica and Zavattini. Considering that The Children Are Watching Us was largely unavailable in any previous film or video format, Criterion's DVD release is cause for celebration. --Jeff Shannon
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The film is beautifully restored and while the extras aren't plentiful - recent interviews with child star Luciano De Ambrosis and critic Callisto Cosulich and a booklet - they make up for in it terms of quality.
It was shot very well. I loved the movie. It moved me and was a heartbreaking situation.
The end was simply stunning. This is about as perfect a masterpiece you can ever watch if you don't mind subtitles.
I highly recommend it...it will stay with you forever in your memory!
"The Children Are Watching Us" is appropriately named. The film is subtly structured from the viewpoint of a little boy whose mother deserts him and his meticulous but unromantic father for a slick lover-boy. There's not a flicker of war or politics in the boy's perceptions, nor thus in the film, and that of course is amazing in itself, given when and where the film was made. The purity of the film's focus on the boy and the boy's perceptions is as clear as the black-and-white cinematography. For a film produced, perhaps with some secrecy, in a studio, the vividness of its images of Italy makes "The Children" a travelogue in time. One could turn off the sound and subtitles and still be entranced by the photography. Luckily for us, this film has been stunningly restored; the film and sound quality are better than most of the prints of Italian classics two decades newer. And, for those who want to relish the script in its proper language, the subtitles can be turned off. There are subtleties of dialect and characterization in the dialogue that are lost in translation.
From de Sica and Lucchino Visconti to Federico Fellini, for the decade beginning in the middle of World War 2, the Italian cinema industry led the world in creativity, honesty, and artistry. You'll have to see this film yourselves to appreciate how skillfully made it is.
Look for similar items by category
- Movies & TV > Art House & International > By Country > Italy > Classics
- Movies & TV > Art House & International > By Genre > Classics > Italy
- Movies & TV > Art House & International > By Genre > Drama
- Movies & TV > Art House & International > By Original Language > Italian
- Movies & TV > Classics > International > Italy
- Movies & TV > Drama > Family Life
- Movies & TV > Drama > Love & Romance > Crumbling Marriages
- Movies & TV > Kids & Family > Drama