A lot of European art house movies are set in prisons or schools which are like prisons, especially either side of the war. Here prison is a prison within a prison of a society in occupied Italy. This is the harshest of all those films and unremittingly bleak, made ironically more so by the street humour and good-naturedness of innocence doing its best to scrape a living and enjoy itself despite everything. The sense that there might just be a future for father and son after the end of Bicycle Thieves is absent here as the appalling tragedy works itself out and adults are, in the main, guilty of forgetting their responsibilities and humanity. A desolate masterpiece.