Vittorio De Sika

Vittorio De Sika

Italian film director
Date of Birth: 07.07.1901
Country: Italy

  1. Biography of Vittorio De Sica
  2. The Beginnings of Realism and Collaboration with Cesare Zavattini
  3. The Neorealist Masterpieces
  4. Later Works and Success
  5. Later Years and Legacy

Biography of Vittorio De Sica

Vittorio De Sica (07.07.1901 - 13.11.1974) was an Italian actor and film director. He was born into a family of small civil servants and studied at the Higher Commercial Institute. De Sica began his career in theater, performing in comedies and vaudevilles starting from 1924. He entered the film industry in 1918, but actively started acting in films from 1931, with his film "La vecchia signora". In director Mario Camerini's films such as "What Scoundrels Men Are" (1932), "Million Dollar Love" (1934), and "The Great Mr. Nobody" (1937), De Sica portrayed attractive and lively young Italians like drivers and journalists.

Vittorio De Sika

The Beginnings of Realism and Collaboration with Cesare Zavattini

In 1940, De Sica directed his first films - "Red Roses" (with G. Amato) and "Maddalena, Zero for Conduct". In 1941, he directed "Teresa Venerdì" (with A. Manzoni), and in 1942, "The Monk in Monza". These lyrical comedies had De Sica as the screenwriter and lead actor. "The Children Are Watching Us" (1943), a realistic film depicting the suffering of an abandoned child encountering the hypocritical and selfish adult world, was met with negative reviews from the official press, as it challenged fascist cinema. This film marked the beginning of De Sica's long creative collaboration with Cesare Zavattini.

The Neorealist Masterpieces

In 1946, De Sica directed "Shoeshine", a film focused on the issue of child abandonment in post-war Italy. Further developing the artistic principles of neorealism, in which De Sica was one of the pioneers, he created his most significant films: "Bicycle Thieves" (1948, Academy Award winner in 1949), which addressed the tragedy of unemployment; "Miracle in Milan" (1950, Grand Prize of the Cannes Film Festival and FIPRESCI Prize), depicting the lives of homeless beggars in Milan; and "Umberto D." (1951), which explored the tragedy of lonely, impoverished old age. In "The Roof" (1956), the director once again highlighted a pressing social issue and called for solidarity among working-class people.

Later Works and Success

In 1960, De Sica adapted Alberto Moravia's novel "Two Women" into a film, passionately protesting against fascism and war. The film centered around Cesira, a simple Italian woman who experienced the horrors of war. In 1961, together with Zavattini, he directed the satirical film "The Last Judgment" in the same style as "Miracle in Milan". In 1962, he released the anti-war film "The Condemned of Altona" (based on Jean-Paul Sartre's play). De Sica's works encompassed psychological depth, high drama, and sharp, grotesque satire, as well as light and elegant comedy. His films were characterized by exceptional craftsmanship, refined artistic taste, and impeccable ensemble acting. De Sica acted in more than 150 films, portraying aging womanizers in the 1940s and 1950s, such as in "Bread, Love and Dreams" and "Villa Borghese", talkative lawyers in "Marriage Italian Style" and "The Last Judgment", and fallen aristocrats in "Gold of Naples". In the film "General Della Rovere" (directed by Roberto Rossellini), De Sica played the role of Bertone, a speculator and swindler who collaborated with the fascists, but eventually took on the high mission of fighting fascism by falsely pretending to be a Resistance hero. The actor masterfully portrayed Bertone's complex journey of transformation.

Later Years and Legacy

Among De Sica's most significant works in the 1960s were the films featuring renowned Italian actors Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni: "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" (1963, Academy Award winner in 1964) and "Marriage Italian Style" (based on Eduardo De Filippo's play "Filumena Marturano", 1964). In 1969, De Sica directed the film "Sunflower" (with Soviet filmmakers), and in 1970, "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis" (based on Giorgio Bassani's novel), which won the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival and an Academy Award in 1971. The film depicted the story of young members of the aristocratic society caught in the bloody drama of fascism. In 1972, he directed the social comedy "We'll Call Him Andrea". Vittorio De Sica's works continue to be admired for their psychological depth, high drama, and satirical humor.