World Cinema

Shoeshine directed by Vittorio De Sica

51zb4ZVLnYL._SL500_AA300_ This is one movie that I have been wanting to see for a long time. I had seen “Bicycle Thieves” before by Sica, which is one of the rare movies that haunt you even by the mere mention of the name…And one thing that I realized after seeing these two movies by Sica is that he gives the killer blow right at the end – the silent walk by the father and the son in “Bicycle Thieves” and in this case Pasquale’s shattered cries as the horse, the hope, trots away, almost in despair…


Sica has a special touch with children and this movie really brings it out…

The heart of this story is, I believe, about innocence and how fragile it is. Its post-war Italy, a society trying to find new meaning. Children, as is always the case, become the hidden victims. Giuseppe and Pasquale, 453777390_587229a337 are two gamins in our story, who are shoeshiners and fast friends. Their only ambition in life is to own a horse that they love, for which they saved for some time. They get involved in a crime without realizing it, but which enables them to buy the horse. Their dream is short-lived though, as they are soon caught and thrown into juvenile prison.

And so starts their slow dehumanization. They valiantly attempt to keep up their humour and their strands of friendship together but a system which bothers only with incarceration and not with justice just does not allow that.

a image shoeshine image  2906 In an almost Dickensian atmosphere, children are treated as adult criminals, which then makes them into one and in an ironical self-serving judgement, the authorities turn around and say – “I told you so”

It has its own elements of dark humour and there is a faint underlying theme of absurdity in the cinematography as if the story is telling you how absurd the world is that makes children end up in prison and how absurd it is that we are able to rationalize it somehow.
The end of this story is both visceral and darkly poetic at the same time and as I said, is a hallmark of Sica’s movies. And it is an end that would haunt the viewer for a long time.

You become so close to the two boys and to some other inmates of the PDVD_035 prison especially Raffaele that in the end you almost feel like crying at the utter waste of it all…

This is one classic that you miss at your own peril. This is a movie to cherish and pass on. No review is enough until you actually see it…


I cant wait to see the rest of Sica’s movies – “Umberto D” and “Children are watching us”, next on list…


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