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SUNDAY IN AUGUST

Italy, 1950 (MIFF 1954, Programme 4)

Director: Luciano Emmer

"Sunday in August", which could be called an Italian equivalent of an early film of Carol Reed, "Bank Holiday", is useful for drawing a distinction between French and Italian cinema. The glory of the French film is the projection of the individual, whereas Italian cinema projects the individual but places greater emphasis on general social effect. Thus, in "Sunday in August", Emmer shows more desire to look at people than at the individual, more attention to the general picture of life than to the single figures, whose movements, erratic and touching, transform an idea into a story.

Director Emmer has an exceptional command of crowd and group scenes, and an affectionate eye for the behaviour of people in the mass.

”Sunday in August” has the sparkle of all Sundays won from the routine of life; as well as all the confusion, heat and discomfort that they entail.

Although this Italian film briefly touches tragedy, it is for the greater part concerned with Romans enjoying a hot day at the seaside. We follow five lines of a story &ndash: switching swiftly but not arbitrarily from one to another. A sunny Sunday draws to the beach at Ostia a crowd of youths on bicycles, a working class family, a widower with his little daughter and a nasty prospective stepmother, and a middle class girl who has quarrelled with her boy and has been picked up by a covey of the idle rich. At the same time in deserted Rome a policeman and the housemaid he is going to marry are left to loiter by the fountains.

The fitting together of these five stories emerges in a recording which is wonderful fully and simply achieved and photographically factual, of a cross section of contemporary Italian life. When he came to write the scenario of this film, Sergio Amidei, who scripted “Open City”, “Paisa” and “Bicycle Thieves”, was already recognised as a writer of outstanding talent.

Luciano Emmer, on the other hand, had made his name with studios of works of art, and had never before directed a feature film. This, and the fact that the characters in the story are mostly interpreted by small part players and amateurs, make the film's maturity of touch all the more astonishing.

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