Miracle in Milan (UK - BD RB)
Our Marcus has fun with a Vittorio De Sica oldie restored in high definition
This 1951 Vittorio De Sica film begins with a baby found in a cabbage patch by a sweet old lady. The boy, named Toto (Francesco Golisano) is soon left alone when the old lady dies and when growing up and leaving his orphanage becomes part of a shanty town society who are threatened with eviction. Soon Toto's dead mother's ghost appears and offers up a magic dove that can make all of Toto's wishes come true and Miracle in Milan turns out to quite a bit of light hearted fun.
I'm not all that aware of the Vittorio De Sica and long time screenwriter Cesare Zavattini's films. So going into this old movie was quite a nice surprise given the feel good vibe it gives out. The always smiling Toto provides a warmth to this tale that is quite infectious and with some wonderfully fun visuals (such as an old hungry man nearly floating away when holding some balloons) there's a childish fantasy approach to all this that really does add a spark of magic.
Split into two half's (with text telling us when the second half arrives) this charming little film tells a sweet little tale, packed with small silent film style visuals, some pretty bold effects (including a great bit where the townsfolk literally blow away the smoke that's forcing them out of their shanty town)and the sort of nostalgic feelings that would make for a great Sunday afternoon watch.
I've reviewed quite a few old flicks on Blu-ray over the last couple of years and I'm really beginning like the look of old black and white films in HD. The image flits between gritty and noticeably clean but generally the image is sharp and full of detail and considering the age of the film looks quite well looked after in its restoration.
The exterior shanty town scenes are bright and sunlit and are very detailed for the most part. There's a real texture to the woodern huts and quite often the dusty gravel floor out shines what I would have expected from the transfer. Odd close ups are also great and the wide shots of the city towards the end of the film are very impressive with their sun lit detail and sense of scale.
Typically for an older film the audio is quite limited and what it is good at is sort of annoying. The always jaunty upbeat score that pretty consistantly sounds like the music at a travelling funfair is good and clear and the dialogue also has its moments but the age of the film make the track sound a bit tinny from time to time. The track sounds authentic and un-tampered with, so that's a bonus but the score here is enough to make anyone but fans style damn near lose their minds.
The interview with Manuel De Sica (the son of the director) (06:52 SD) talks about the change of pace of the movie to make it diffrent to the Zavattini and Sica films. Also the critics view of the film both positive and negative. The interview with the actress Brunella Bova (05:18 SD) is a little more light hearted and specific to the film's casting.
The premiere footage (02:38 SD) is from the original news reel and comes with subtiles as does the rather odd trailer (04:58 SD) which takes a while to even feel like a trailer for the same film.
On the other discs in this three disc set we fget the film and all the extras on a DVD and on disc three we're treated to another movie (again on DVD) 'Il Tetto' (01:34).
I never know what to expect when venturing into older films I've not heard of by in Miracle in Milan's case I ended up really enjoying it. It's a celebration of cinema and bridges a gap between silent film styles and the talkies and has a genuine amount of charm to the magical tale. The HD presentation is pretty good here with a couple of nice, albeit short interviews and the extra film included in the set is a nice bonus for any fans but it not being a Blu-ray discs seems a bit lame.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
Release Date: 26th March 2012
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: LPCM 2.0 English
Extras: Interviews, DVD Copy, Il Tito (Feature Film)
Easter Egg: No
Director: Vittorio De Sica
Cast: Emma Gramatica, Francesco Golisano, Paolo Stoppa
Length: 96 minutes
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