Wherefore Art Thou Vittorio

16 Sep 2013: That’s Life: Vittorio De Sica (DVD, 2001, Sandro Lai)

This documentary is warm and amicable but feels far too much like one of those standard-issue featurettes that fill DVDs from distributors of much lesser esteem than Criterion: not much time for details, plenty of time for hohum fellation of its subject. The archival footage of De Sica consists of publicity materials rather than much in the way of reflection or critical conversation, and dutifully proceeds through the major films of his career by showing red-carpet assemblages and awards ceremonies without much insight into motives and circumstances from collaborators or friends. Made for TV and produced and financed by the government (if I remember right), it’s the kind of pap-laden hagiography that smooths over any existential crises, career problems and subversiveness in its portrait of the artist as a national treasure – i.e. something by which the nation may profit and defend its legitimacy without any real honest credit given to its creators.

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