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Miracle In Milan

Miracle In Milan

By Patrick Samuel • July 31st, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
Soc. Produzioni DeSica

Original release: February 8th, 1951
Running time: 100 minutes

Country of origin: Italy
Original language: Italian

Director: Vittorio De Sica
Writers: Cesare Zavattini, Vittorio De Sica, Suso Cecchi d’Amico, Mario Chiari, Adolfo Franci

Cast: Francesco Golisano, Emma Gramatica

Miracle In Milan

We experience miracles everyday. Sometimes when I think things can’t get any worse, for no reason at all a stranger will brighten up my morning with a sudden act of kindness, or the sun will break through the dark clouds that have been hovering over me for days.

These little miracles help me remember there are things out there bigger than I am, and they make my troubles seem small and inconsequential and somehow easier to deal with.

There are other miracles though, defined as an extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers. These are the miracles featured in Miracle In Milan, the follow-up to De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves and based on Cesare Zavattini’s novel, Toto The Good.

The story begins with an old woman, Lolotta (Emma Gramatica), discovering a baby in her cabbage patch. She calls him Toto and raises him as her own, teaching him kindness and to make a sport out of any mishap he encounters. When she dies, Toto is sent to live in an orphanage, but this experience doesn’t break his spirit. When he leaves as a young adult many years later, Toto (Francesco Golisano) is a happy man who’s only too happy to lend a helping hand to anyone who’s in need.

Miracle In Milan

With nowhere to live, a fellow homeless man takes him to a shantytown squatter colony on the outskirts of Milan. Once there, his cheerful and do-good-to-others nature help to bring a group displaced people together as a community to build homes out of the scraps left over by the nearby wealthy land owners and developers.

When oil is discovered there, the capitalists are quick to swoop in and try to evict the entire community, but Toto helps them stand up against these greedy men in more ways than one. With the powers Lolotta has bestowed upon him, he’s able to grant wishes, but then the people become as greedy as the capitalists – though a few of them ask for simple things. Eventually he’s able to take them all away to a better place and they fly to Heaven on broomsticks.

Miracle In Milan’s cheerfulness is infectious as we see Toto going about helping others. The film has a strong charm that’s been likened to the comedy of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, but De Sica adds his own twist of neo-realism to it. Scenes that show Toto and the Miracle In Milanhomeless people trying to find a ray of sunlight on an otherwise dark, fiercely cold and windy day have both poignancy and sadness to it.

Elsewhere, in a subplot, we see the blossoming romance between a black man and a white woman, but they seem shy and afraid to be with each other. When Toto begins granting wishes, they see a way out of their troubles and each wishes to be the opposite colour, putting them back at square one, making the whole racial situation seem rather silly to begin with.

It’s a film that’s very enjoyable, but with so many writers on board, the story does meander in a few places, especially with the back and forth between the community and the land owners. However, as a film which shows us how the common man can overcome hardship, I can’t fault it much. Francesco Golisano delivers a fine performance as magical hero and though it’s quite a departure from De Sica’s other neo-realist films like Shoe Shine, Stazione Termini and Il Boom, it’s nevertheless beautifully told.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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