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June 20, 1975 - Image 5

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1975-06-20

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Friday, June 20, 1975

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Five

DeSica's 'Brief Vacation goes Govt. expects no
from realism to glossy fantasy gasoline shortage

By JANE SIEGEL
At first, A Brief Vacation
seems to present yet another
tribute to Vittorio DeSica's
striking talent for realism. The
fascination of the opening
scenes lies in their truthfulness.
DeSica portrays his charac-
ters with an honesty that re-
veals the bleakness of their
lives. -
However, his mood does not
remain consistent. When, half-
way through the story, we are
transported from grey city
streets into a winter wonder-
land, the audience loses hold on
the reality DeSica has created
at the outset of the film.
IN THE opening shot we see
his protagonist, Clara, wake up,
not from a nightmare, but into
one. We are thrown into the
dingy -apartment where her
daily escape leads only to equ-
ally dismal crowds and the un-
ending grind of factory work.
While her senile mother-in-law
contemplates whether to slice or
dice the eggplant, Clara rushes
out to support the entire family.
DeSica establishes an inti-
macy between the audience and
this woman's world. He allows
the viewer to both observe and
experience her life. On the
crowded and confusing streets,
Clara is our reference point.
She is real for us because she
is commonplace, yet becomes
uni ue through her immediacy.
When Clara discovers that she
has tuberculosis it -is hardly
surprising. Slowly drowned by
its surroundings, her body itself
now suffocates. Over the pro-
tests of her clinging and de-
pendent relatives, she is sent
to a santarium in the moun-
tains to recover.
THERE, she grows to value
the peaceful freedom she gains
and soon dreads the home she
has left. Her increasing happi-
ness only foreshadows her in-
evitable return and one soon re-
alizes that she has been given
this brief respite at a frustrat-
ing and precious cost.
One of DeSica's most strik-

ing scenes takes place several
months after Clara has entered
the sanitarium. In that short
time, she has visibly changed.
The lines on her face have dis-
appeared along with the frus-
tration that bore them, even
her hair is no longer frazzled.
We see her in front of the mir-
ror preparing to meet her boy-
friend. The camera centers on
her reflection as she applies her
newly acquired make-up in shy
exnectation of the date.
THE IMAGE in the mirror re-
veals not only what Clara has
become, but what she once was.
Her reflection captures the
youth and innocence she has
lost - it shows her wearing a
fragile and transient mask.
DeSica follows Clara into the
town square, her excitement
growing as she nears the ap-'
pointed spot. We are shown
only her face, and suddenly her
gaze is intercepted, and her
smile vanishes. Blocking her
way is the arrival of hubby,
brother-in-law, mother and one
of three children.
Instead of spending an idyllic
afternoon with her lover, she
is jerked straight into the one
reality she wishes to avoid. Un-
expected and unwanted, her
family's presence is painfully
out of place.
AS THEY crawl out of their
small car, they -seem to em-
body the cramped and dark life
of the city. For Clara it is a
cruel surprise, her family does
not belong to this world, their
visit has invaded her dream.
The film's major flaw lies in
the very creation of this para-
disical world. Contrasted with
the harsh reality of earlier
scenes, life in the sanitarium
seems painstakingly contrived.
The romantic setting never
lets up. Everyone smiles, it is
perpetually sunny, and half the
village still sport lederhosen.
Where, in the factory and street
scenes, DeSica dealt with sim-
ple and ordinary people, San-
dalo is populated with charac-
ters who run self-consciously

through their roles.
THE EPITOME of this Holly-
wood gloss can be found in the
relationship between Clara and
Luigi. Next to the realism of the
opening shots, their love seems
shallow and improbable. While
they stroll through the country-
side, Italian muzak fills the
background and the montage of
love scenes comes off with all
the intensity of an ad for scent-
ed soap.
Instead of involving the view-
er in the action by drawing us
into the frame, DeSica forces
the audience to admire the scen-
ery. The further we are from
Clara, the weaker her evperi-
ence becomes for us, and the
depth which DeSica has given
her character diminishes.
A Brief Vacation vividly dis-
plays the range of DeSica's cap-
abilities. His last film vacil-
lates between the neo-realism
of Bicycle Thieves and the gla-
mour of a Hollywood produc-
tion.
By making the two worlds -
Clara's home and Sandalo - so
extreme, DeSica has sacrificed
the unity of his film. His indul-
gence in glib romanticism un-
dermines the realism he has
so carefully portrayed.
Undecided himself about the
style he wishes to use, DeSica
leaves thetaudience hanging as
well. Hy the end of the story,
neither world seems appropri-
ate. Clara's brief vacation has
turned into a prolonged fantasy.

(Continued from Page 1)
almost 8 per cent less than in
the comparable period of 1973.
At the same time, an Asso-
ciated Press spot check in ma-
jor cities around the country
showed some oil firms were
urging dealers to stay open
longer and two major oil com-
panies said they had been boost-
ing gasoline production.
FEA ADMINISTRATOR Frank
Zarb said in Washington: "I
don't expect a big shortage"
this summer.
An FEA spokesman said the
agency had been contacting ma-
jor oil companies in recent days
to check on supplies. He said
the oil refineries currently were
operating at about 80 to 85 per
cent of capacity and added that
if the FEA finds supplies are
too low, it will exercise its
authority to order the oil com-
panies to refine more gasoline
and less of other products.
"They have to listen to us,"

he said. "There is absolutely
no way we're going to let the
country run short of gasoline
when we have this kind of crude
oil."
THE SPOKESMAN said the
agency estimated demand for
gasoline would be about the
same as last year, but added
that early figures for 1975 indi-
cated Americans might use a
little bit more fuel than in 1974.
Other sources said the FEA
estimate was too low. The
American Petroleum Institute
said demand for gasoline during
the first quarter of 1975 was
5.5 per cent higher than a year
earlier.
John Winger, senior petroleum
analyst for Chase Manhattan
Hank, said demand for gas in
April was 3.1 per cent higher
than it was a year earlier. In
May, he said, demand was up
1.1 per cent from 1974 levels.
"IF THE ECONOMY picks
up, demand will pick up,"

ADVERTISERS!
A Reminder
FRIDAY, JUNE 20
is the final deadline for the
Art Fair Supplement

Gandhi expected to move
on conviction appeal today
NEW DELHI, India (A) - The found her guilty of winning her
first move in Prime Minister Parliament seat in 1971 by mis-
Indira Gandhi's appeal of her using the services of govern-
corrupt electioneering conviction ment officials, the prime min-
will come, today, one of her ister and her lawyers finalized
lawyers announced. their legal strategy.
Gandhi, facing a fresh legal J.B. Dadachanji, a leading
challenge to remaining in pow- lawyer who was hired by the
er, gave her approval yesterday prime minister despite his hav-
for an urgent appeal to the ing often argued major cases
Supreme Court to overturn her against her government, an-
conviction of corrupt electoral nounced when the first move.
practices. in the appeals process would
ONE WEEK after a judge come.
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