Greatest Film Scenes
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Miracle in Milan (1951, It.) (aka Miracolo a Milano)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Miracle in Milan (1951, It.) (aka Miracolo a Milano)

In director/producer Vittorio De Sica's brilliant, quirky, surreal comic fantasy that won the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival - it was an uncharacteristic film for the director who was one of the pioneers of Italian social realism; the playful, light-hearted and fanciful story (introduced with the storybook's "Once upon a time...") was a neo-realistic, feel-good fable based upon co-scriptwriter Cesare Zavattini's children's book l Totò il Buono:

Toto's Adoptive 'Mother' Lolotta (Emma Gramatica)

11 Year Old Totò (Gianni Branduani) with Adoptive Mother Before Her Death

Totò (Francesco Golisano) with Shantytown Residents Living on a Field in Outskirts of Milan, Italy
  • tender-hearted elderly spinster Lolotta (Emma Gramatica) found an abandoned baby among the cabbages in her garden patch in post-war Milan (Italy). She adopted the baby, cared for him with love and shelter, and named him Totò (Gianni Branduani as 11 year-old child). She was a cheerful old woman who loved life: "What a great big place the world is." When she died and after her funeral (Toto was the only attendee), he was sent to an orphanage and remained there for many years until released
  • when Totò (Francesco Golisano as adult) entered the world, he was optimistic, kind, innocent-minded, generous and open-hearted. Without belongings or a place to live, he settled with other dispossessed hobos/homeless people - eccentric misfits, vagabonds and squatters - in a shantytown camp. The residents of the illegal camp lived in makeshift steel-corrugated boxes and massive cement pipes on a vast, snow-covered barren field outside the city
  • Totò enthusiastically and energetically engaged and supported the outcasts during their travails, and helped the residents in the small colony or community join together to reinforce and build stronger shelters. He even supervised the move-in of newly-arrived outcast individuals into new housing units, including mistreated servant Edvige (Brunella Bovo) who became his sweetheart
  • one afternoon, one of many fat-cat land developers in Milan - wealthy land-owner and exploitative, greedy capitalist Mr. Mobbi (Guglielmo Barnabò), visited the squatters on the land, and was intimidated by them

Mogul Fat Cat Business Land Buyers-Developers

A Greedy Capitalist Eyeing the Squatters

Fat Cats, Including Mr. Mobbi (left), Surrounded by Homeless
  • during a Maypole celebration (including a lottery drawing for a chicken), when a hole was dug, water was struck on the settlement land - creating a fountain that turned to a gusher of oil
  • scheming squatter Rappi (Paolo Stoppa) divulged the sudden discovery of oil to Mobbi, and conspicuously returned to the homeless camp with a top hat and a fur wrap around his neck; Mobbi sent representatives to announce that he now owned the private property. The squatter camp had to be cleared and everything had to be moved out, including the evicted inhabitants; Mr. Mobbi enforced his orders against the rebellious squatters with a squadron of police with smoke bombs, to force them to surrender
  • during the crisis, Totò climbed the maypole to give up with a waving white flag, where he was given a magic white dove by the ghostly 'spirit' of his guardian angel and adoptive mother Lolotta. He used its miraculous powers to grant secret wishes that transformed the camp, pushed back the smoke, and caused the police assault with water hoses to be defeated. One of Totò's secret wishes caused two captains of the guard to break out into an aria, when they raised their swords to charge forward with their troops
Gift of a Magical White Dove by His Adoptive Mother Lolotta
  • Totò was able to prevent Mr. Mobbi's guards from advancing, but then the camp residents began begging him for clothing, shoes, food, money, physical attributes, and other material items after he promised them: "Queue up and keep calm. I'll make you all happy, I swear"; the statue (Alba Arnova) in the camp's courtyard also came to life; however, the two 'angels' that accompanied Lolotta objected to Toto, as a mortal human, using their magical powers to present people with gifts, so they retrieved the magical dove
  • however, Toto was able to get the dove back from his 'mother' - and as he fell in love with Edvige and kissed her - he offered her the sun by glancing at the horizon and causing the sun to rise, but then the two angels again stole back the dove
  • the camp was left unprotected, and was overrun by the police who now evicted the occupants and jailed them. Edvige handed Totò a replacement ordinary dove through the bars of his police wagon in Piazza del Duomo, the central square outside Milan's Cathedral. With this dove and through the power of his faith, Toto offered a wish - freedom for his friends. His wish was magically granted - police wagons opened their doors and walls, and the squatters flew up into the air on stolen street sweepers' broomsticks; after circling around the Cathedral, Toto (and Edvige) - with many others - departed for a better heavenly place and a positive tomorrow

Toto Evicted From Camp and Placed in a Police Wagon

Edvige with Replacement Dove for Toto

Edvige Handing Dove to Toto in Police Wagon

Toto and All the Squatters Freed From Police Wagons by His Wish

"Everybody Grab a Broom"

Edvige and Toto Flew Away on a Stolen Broomstick

Baby Found in Cabbage Patch by Elderly Spinster

Toto in Shantytown of Makeshift Shacks

Edvige (Brunella Bovo), Toto's Future Sweetheart

Gusher of Oil on Squatter's Land

Scheming Squatter Rappi About to Tell Mobbi About the Oil Discovery

Clearing the Squatters Out of the Settlement Camp

Smoke Bombs and Police Used to Clear the Camp

Captain Leading Charge - But Singing an Aria

Transformed Statue (Alba Arnova) - Brought to Life in the Squatters' Camp

Falling in Love with Edvige - Granting Her Wish to Have the Sun Rise

Ending: Flying into the Heavenly Clouds on Broomsticks


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