Neorealism, History, and The Children’s Film: Vittorio de Sica’s The Children Are Watching Us reconsidered
Vittorio De Sica, The Children Are Watching Us, Italian neorealism, children’s films, Shoeshine, Bicycle Thieves
Vittorio De Sica used a child protagonist for the first time, not in his neorealist masterpiece Shoeshine (1946), but in his first truly serious film, The Children Are Watching Us (1943), which examines the impact on a young boy’s life of his mother’s extramarital affair with a family friend. The Children Are Watching Us proved to be a key work, thematically as well as stylistically, in De Sica’s directing career. In its thematic attempt to reveal the underside of Italy’s moral life, this film was indicative of a rising new vision in Italian cinema. And in exhibiting semi-documentary qualities by being shot partially on location, as well as by using nonprofessional actors in some roles, The Children Are Watching Us was a precursor of the neorealism that would issue forth after the liberation of occupied Rome.