Il Tetto – The Roof (Vittorio De Sica – 1956)

Five years after his masterpiece, Miracolo a Milano – Miracle in Milan (1951), director Vittorio De Sica with screenwriter Cesare Zavattini, return to a familiar neorealist theme – social troubles of a young couple, played by unprofessional actors, facing a housing problem during Italy’s economic boom.

il_tetto1Newlywed couple, Gabriella Pallotta – Luisa (as Gabriella Pallotti)
Listuzzi – Natale, Luisa’s husband

The film opens with footage of construction workers at a building site working hard, which reminded me of similar labor themes director Ermanno Olmi dealt with early in his career.

The story tells the hardships of a newlywed couple finding a house; they are rejected from their overcrowded parents’ home, check a noisy, yet overpriced apartment by the railroad, and finally, resort to their last solution. Summing up the help of his construction workers, Natale, Luisa’s husband, find an empty lot by a railroad and overnight build a small cabin, leveraging a rule that if a dwelling has a door and a roof, the dweller cannot be evicted.

il_tetto2Beyond the ironic narrative, a construction worker that builds modern high-rise homes for others is struggling to find a home for himself, the film opens a wide visual angle that illustrates the immense force of Italy’s economic boom with construction sites everywhere. Yet, not all profited from. A personal story that mirrored larger societal changes, sitting on top of a universal human need for shelter.

I liked the heartwarming soundtrack of Alessandro Cicognini that tightly hugs the narrative as the protagonists face one conflict after another, but still leaves room for hope. Cicognini’s music style is described as late-romantic and was characterized by immediacy and catchiness as you’ll soon find out if you watch this film.

Celebrating’s 10-year anniversary I figured this film has many of the attributes of Italian cinema that caught my fascination and it’s a great example of the Italian visual storytelling craftsmanship that still excites, moves and engages all senses.

By Shlomi Ron

Visual marketing guy with a penchant for fine Italian cinema.

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