Friday, April 24, 2009

I bambini ci guardano (1944)

Vittorio De Sica's I bambini ci guardano (=The Children Are Watching Us) tells about a little boy who is torn between his love to his mother and her infidelity to his father. Like the title suggests, little Pricò (wonderfully played by Luciano De Ambrosis) watches his mother as she meets her lover. Although very young, Pricò is not stupid. He knows what is going on and refuses to salute Roberto (his mother's lover).

That night, Pricò asks his mother to kiss him goodnight after tucking him into bed. When the next morning she is gone, Pricò falls ill and is very happy when she returns. The family seems all right again. Then the father takes them to a holiday in Alassio and leaves them there because he has to work. This time, when Pricò sees her mother with Roberto, he tries to come back to Rome to see his father. It seems Pricò is hurt very much this time to see this betrayal. When they refuse to sell him a train ticket - because he is a little boy traveling alone - he tries to walk by foot to Rome; but two gendarmes catch him and bring him back to his mother. When Pricò and his mother return to Rome, only Pricò arrives at his father's home because she is running away again with Roberto.

Perhaps the father can bear this problem if the gossiping neighbours don't make it worse. It's the shame he cannot take. The father commits suicide after sending Pricò to a dormitory. When Pricò is given the terrible news, he won't come to his mother who comes to be at his side. He chooses to hold the maid and leaves the room. In his heart, he knows it is she who has caused his father's death.

Like in The Bicycle Thieves and Sunshine, Vittorio De Sica knew how to make dramatic movies with quality, yet easy to understand and enjoyable. We can feel Pricò's suffering. He is a good boy, although his grandma doesn't think so and say bad things about him.

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