(aka 'The Children Are Watching Us' or 'The Little Martyr')

Italy 1944


  In his first collaboration with renowned screenwriter and longtime partner Cesare Zavattini, Vittoria De Sica examines the cataclysmic consequences of adult folly on an innocent child. Heralding the pair’s subsequent work on some of the masterpieces of Italian neorealism, The Children Are Watching Us is a vivid, deeply humane portrait of a family’s disintegration.


Theatrical Release: October 27th, 1944

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DVD Review: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 323 - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:24:33 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.96 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Italian (Dolby Digital 1.0) 
Subtitles English, None

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Video interview with star Luciano de Ambrosis (8:11)
• Video interview with De Sica scholar Callisto Cosulich (8:41)
• 26-page liner notes booklet featuring film scholar Robert Cardullo and Stuart Klawans on screenwriter Cesare Zavattini with photos from the film

DVD Release Date: March 28th, 2006

Keep Case
Chapters: 17




Preface: As with the Forbidden Games, The Virgin Spring, La bÍte humaine and Kind Hearts and Coronets releases by Criterion (as well as Nanook of the North) the image has been 'pictureboxed' to overcome 'overscan' on commercially made tube television sets (can be up to a 15% loss of image and this is significant!). Pictureboxing leaves a black border around the edge of the image and most players automatically zoom-in to fill the screen - it limits resolution making the image slightly less detailed than it might be able to achieve if it was instead tight to the frame edges. The benefit of pictureboxing is that it adds more visible viewing area so that the majority of DVD purchasers (most people own and watch through tubes) can see even more of what is on the negative - the way the film was meant to be viewed. It is a heated discussion weighing the pro's and cons of this transfer feature. DVDBeaver sides with removing the pictureboxing borders and using the full 720 pixel width for 1.33 aspect ratio films.

The image on The Children Are Watching looks very good - the best I have seen this film ever look. Although made prior to both the Bicycle Thieves and Shoeshine it has a superior image than the currently issued DVDs of those films. It is very clean, no real blemishes and the transfer is quite dark with no untoward manipulations. It may possibly have blackness boosting, typical of Criterion in the past, but it is not extensive enough to warrant any visible intrusion on the viewing experience. It is not exceptionally sharp but looks very acceptable considering the age of the film. Audio is consistent with only one minor instance of a brief crackle/gap. Subtitles are again at Criterion usual excellent level. Both new video interviews are excellent, but I would prefer that they were longer - but am very grateful that they are included. The liner notes booklet is beautiful - printed on good quality paper with photos and 2 detailed essays.

This is one of my favorite De Sica offerings and I strongly recommend this new Criterion package. The film is immensely impacting. It is such a pleasure to see DVD production companies that take real care in what they produce. I, personally, consider this an essential DVD.    

Gary W. Tooze


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DVD Box Cover


CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 323 - Region 1 - NTSC


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Gary Tooze

Mississauga, Ontario,


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