I bambini ci guardano (The Children Are Watching Us) (1944)
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A very early Vittorio De Sica effort, The Children Are Watching Us was originally released in Italy as I Bambini Ci Guardano. Director De Sica collaborated with another neorealist pioneer, Cesare Zavattini, on the screenplay. The film, a real tearjerker, concerns a young mother (Isa Pola) who can't stand the pressures exerted on her by family responsibilities. She deserts her husband (Emilio Cigoli) and her brood, permanently ruining the life of her four-year-old son, Prico (Luciano de Ambrosis). Avoiding the rococo gestures and dramatic overstatement that might have attended this film had it been made in Hollywood, De Sica fashions a subtle tale about real people caught up in a real situation. De Sica's sensitivity toward the younger cast members of The Children Are Watching Us would manifest itself in many of his formative films, notably SciusciÓ and The Bicycle Thief. Made in 1942, the film was not released in Italy until 1944. … More
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as Mrs. Berelli
as Gigi Sharlani
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Critic Reviews for I bambini ci guardano (The Children Are Watching Us)
A painfully moving portrait that shows the affects of a family break-up has on a sensitive 4-year-old boy and destroys his childhood innocence.
The painful and necessary maturation of a child and of Italian cinema
The final minutes of The Children Are Watching Us comprise one of those searing movie moments, with images you'll never forget
Audience Reviews for I bambini ci guardano (The Children Are Watching Us)
De Sica's fifth film already shows his mastery of the medium. This portrait of loneliness and loss is a must for any neo-realist junkies
"The Children are Watching Us" is another emotion filled and beautifully filmed masterpiece by Vittorio De Sica, who also made the timeless "Bicycle Thieves". This is another small scale drama that is touching, genuine and timeless in it's story of a child who bears witness to his parents demise and even more tragic circumstances. I couldn't take my eyes away from the screen and Luciano De Ambrosis (as Prico) gives a completely believable performance and Emilio Cigoli as the child's father is truly devastating in his performance. I can't recommend this one enough, much like "Bicycle Thieves", is a wonderfully compelling and emotion filled work from a master Director who specializes in these type of films and is worth a watch for anyone who enjoys cinema!
A young boy (DeAmbrosis) is emotionally slapped about, and passed hand-to-hand, as his mother (Pola) cycles through deserting then reconciling with her husband (Emilio Cigoli), then her lover (Rimoldi). In short order, the viewer sees De Ambrosis rapidly come to understand, and adapt to, the crueler world that is life beyond childhood. In the end, little DeAmbrosis is forced to make the most adult decision seen in the film. A Criterion resto.
Aside from being among the first of the Italian neorealist films (primarily defined by use of non-professional actors in routine situations using actual locations), it's best remembered for the one of the most heart-tugging performances by a four-year-old ever captured on film. Unknown DeAmbrosis delivers an extraordinarily expressive, emotional and tormented performance.
The film, as well as its title, intend to remind the viewer to mind carefully the negative impact selfish, illogical (and hormonal) adult behaviors can have on the lives and minds of children, reminding sometimes in subtle ways. The child views a puppet show, intended to be humorous, where two men battle to settle ownership of their lover; immediately thereafter the child refuses to share his toy scooter. As the affair progresses, the child is forced to comprehend the necessity of lying straight into the face of his own father.
There is other interesting content. In a swipe at the corporate aspects of fascism, squabbling condo owners conclude it's better to not use the elevator going down rather than to pay for repairs, while a empty, skewed picture frame hangs behind the governing body, representing its lack of true leadership.
DVD extras include an interview with a far older DeAmbrosis, explaining the sources of his able performance.
RECOMMENDATION: Viewable by all, but primarily recommended to film history completists.
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