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Vittorio De Sica, the master of Neorealism was born 120 years ago

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Italy, defeated by the Second World War, was reflected in his films. The country, bent by the grief that accompanied the conflict, found itself in his works. Works that represent an unforgettable page of the autobiography of a generation of Italians who raised their heads after suffering poverty and bewilderment. From ‘Sciuscià’ to ‘Bicycle thieves’, the art of Vittorio De Sica, born in Sora on 7 July 1901, that is 120 years ago, and died in Neuilly-sur-Seine on 13 November 1974, continues to speak to passionate about the Seventh Art. Master of neorealism, one of the greatest directors and performers of Italian comedy, De Sica has linked his name to a rich and varied career, studded with numerous successes. Like when, with ‘Sciuscià’, a film he directed in 1946, he won the Oscar for best foreign language film, which at the time was awarded as an honorary Oscar. A recognition obtained because, as the motivation states, “the high quality of this film, shown with eloquence in a country wounded by war, is proof to the world that the creative spirit can triumph over adversity”. Creative spirit and desire for survival that characterize the film in which Rinaldo Smordoni and Franco Interlenghi, two boys taken from the street, play the role of two little shoeshineers, the sciuscià, who scramble on the sidewalk of Via Veneto in Rome. Another cornerstone of De Sica’s neorealism is ‘Bicycle Thieves’, a 1948 film considered a true classic in the history of home cinema, but not just neorealism for Vittorio De Sica. In his long production there is still room for other genres and other films. This is the case of ‘La Ciociara’ of 1960, based on the novel of the same name by Alberto Moravia and interpreted by Sophia Loren. A role that earned her the Silver Ribbon, the David di Donatello, the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Actress. Another Oscar-winning film is ‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’ (1963), again starring Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. Film representing the principles of Italian comedy, the film was awarded in 1965, as best foreign film. Unforgettable is the scene of Loren’s striptease in front of a Mastroianni kidnapped by the feminine charm exercised by the actress. After ‘Matrimonio all’italiana’ of 1964, subject taken from ‘Filomena Marturano’ always with the Loren-Mastroianni couple, De Sica then obtained a further Oscar for the 1970 film ‘Il Giardino dei Finzi Contini’, taken from novel of the same name by Giorgio Bassani, also awarded with the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1971. De Sica’s latest film is the reduction of a novel by Luigi Pirandello, ‘The journey’, which dates back to 1974 and sees protagonists Sophia Loren and Richard Burton.

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