Miracle in Milan

Miracolo a Milano

Vittorio De Sica and Cesare Zavattini, Italy, 1951


A young boy has found temporary lodgings in a shantytown, we see him and his host emerge, the following morning, from their tiny metal shelter, which we can only imagine glacially cold. Then, in a long shot, we see the slum, where flimsy shelters are scattered across a wasteland covered in ice and snow. The impoverished inhabitants of these shelters emerge and pace around on the spot, trying to warm themselves up. As the boy takes his leave of his host, thanking him, a rumour starts to spread through the slum: “le soleil I” A sunbeam, closely resembling the light cast by a follow spot, miraculously draws a circle in the grey, frozen landscape. This visual effect doesn’t pretend to be anything other than that, an unreal, graphic overlay on the film. It recalls religious paintings, where a divine light from heaven penetrates down to the earth below. The crowd, up until that point scattered throughout the landscape, find themselves drawn to the circle, pressed up against each other in the circle of light and warmth, dance on the spot and sing with joy. They happily welcome the boy into their little community, and shun the corrupt promoter who wants to drive them off the land to make money for himself.


gracefulness, sun.