Archive for April 18, 2020

The Underclass Goes to Heaven

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on April 18, 2020 by dcairns

I now wish I’d seen MIRACLE IN MILAN (directed by Vittorio De Sica, written by Cesare Zavattini) as a kid. Seeing it as an adult, though I was charmed and impressed by much of it, I had the words of Luis Bunuel (in paraphrase) running through my head on a ticker tape: “What is the incentive to get out of poverty if to be poor is to be so noble? Social injustice corrupts on every level — the rich are better able to protect themselves from it.”

Of course one could argue that if a film asks you to believe in a magic, wish-granting dove from heaven, believing in the virtuous residents of a shanty town shouldn’t be too hard. It’s a fable, and doesn’t even take seriously its own fantastic rules.

My two favourite jokes involved human beings used as props, and are arguably too similar to belong in the same film. The rich man, Mr. Mobbi, has a guy in unform hung from his window to keep him notified as to which way the wind is blowing.

And a poor family have attached a cord to their baby, said cord leading to outside the door. Visitors pulls the string to make the baby give out a notification of their arrival.

“Answer the door, the baby’s flying!”

Having failed to see it as a kid, I should certainly have seen it in Bologna, restored, where the crowd reaction might have crushed my inner Bunuelian cynic.