A very early Vittorio De Sica effort, The Children Are Watching Us was originally released in Italy as I Bambini Ci Guardano. Director De Sica collaborated with another neorealist pioneer, Cesare Zavattini, on the screenplay. The film, a real tearjerker, concerns a young mother (Isa Pola) who can't stand the pressures exerted on her by family responsibilities. She deserts her husband (Emilio Cigoli) and her brood, permanently ruining the life of her four-year-old son, Prico (Luciano de Ambrosis). Avoiding the rococo gestures and dramatic overstatement that might have attended this film had it been made in Hollywood, De Sica fashions a subtle tale about real people caught up in a real situation. De Sica's sensitivity toward the younger cast members of The Children Are Watching Us would manifest itself in many of his formative films, notably Sciuscià and The Bicycle Thief. Made in 1942, the film was not released in Italy until 1944. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Luciano di Ambrosis makes it worth while..so do the actors playing his parents.
The child was five at the time but showed more emotion than you might expect. The film shows the early Di Sica's brilliance and the neo-realism ,ss they call it, only adds to the effect.
The final shot is worth the whole movie!
This is, without a doubt, one of the most poignant movies I have ever seen. If you rent this movie, do watch the interviews with the critic and with the actor who played Prico'. I am an Italian-American, who, with pride, in 2004 at the age of almost 58 had her Italian citizenship recognized - long after the deaths (1983/1988) of my parents of Italian origin. The only problem that I had with this film was understanding the source of the mother's unhappiness - and the motivation that drove her to her passion for Roberto, her lover. But, all in all, I was so moved by the the desperation and pain of the father and the son - all of their dreams unrealized. The fact that this movie was filmed in the summer of 1942 is incomprehensible to me, given all of what was going on historically around the Italian nation at this time. This film has elements of Cinema Paradiso - the only difference is that we never know what happens to sweet, innocent Prico'.