Miracle in Milan

A fable set against a realistic backdrop of Italy in 1951, Vittorio de Sica's Miracle in Milan tells the tale of Toto, an abandoned child taken in and raised by a kindly old lady named Lolotta. When she dies, Toto joins a group of squatters in Milan's shantytown, and soon becomes their leader, helping them to rebuild their hovels. When oil is discovered on the land, the squatters' lives are threatened by the landlord, and a battle with police ensues. From the good Signora Lolotta comes a dove, who enables Toto to work wonders for the beggars, but only until they and Toto are hauled off by the police.
Miracle in Milan confounded the critics with its seemingly ambiguous intent, especially its ending, in which the impoverished townspeople fly on the brooms of streetcleaners to a better land. But the New York Herald Tribune pegged it at the time of its release as “a defeatist comedy which nevertheless radiates a strong and fascinating aura of bitter-sweet humor...” (JB)

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