|Giuseppe De Santis was born in Fondi, in Ciociaria, on February 11 th 1917. His first ambitions, emigrated young to Rome, are literary. After a transient experience of scriptwriter (Don Pasquale, 1940, by Camillo Mastrocinque), his cinema apprenticeship is developed between 1941 and 1943. Pugnacious critical of the fortnightly Cinema, (old series), ex assistant of Luchino Visconti in Ossessione (1942), he frequents the courses of the Experimental Center. Theory and practice have therefore chance to verify in the initial activity of De Santis reciprocally, that meanwhile enters in contact with the clandestine organization of the communist party, in which later he will serve in the military uninterruptedly. Partecipant of the Roman Resistance, in the immediate postwar period De Santis is found (as scriptwriter and assistant director) nearby to Aldo Vergano in Il sole sorge ancora (1946), film produced by the ANPI, non ritual celebration of the recent liberating struggle. In 1947, the full debut of director with the The Tragic pursuit, that develops in the postwar environment the Resistance current. The distinctive elements of a way of doing cinema are already perceived, that, in the vast Neorealist trend of the period, curtains to assume its characters: epic-didactic vocation, choral plant, attention to the country world, clearness of the moral and psychological contrasts of class; not at the end, an erotic vein that will have luxuriant expansion in Bitter rice (1949). Made as a popular novel, Bitter rice arouses reserves and distrust at the left too, but it has comforted from enormous flow of public. On the same line of Bitter rice the following one is put No peace among the olives (1950), that De Santis shoots in the countries of the low Lazio: it is, in a certain way, a makeshift, having cultivated a more comprehensive project, on the lands' occupation from the poor farmers (Noi che facciamo crescere il grano), frustrated by productive difficulties and the hostility of the rulers of the time. With Rome eleven o'clock (1951) from the rural picture it is moved to the urban one: a resounding fact of chronicle (the collapse of a staircase on which they were crowded hundreds of girls looking for a modest employment) it furnishes first the subject, then in a series of female portraits, organically connected to the central theme, that is the unemployment. After Bitter Rice, it is the greatest success, international too, of the author. A Usband for Anna (1953) and Giorni damore (1954) testify the sensibility of De Santis for the woman condition, while The wolves (1956) pushes itself to create a correspondence between natural and social conflicts. If he will want to venture, subsequently, with more burning matters, the director will have to emigrate temporarily: in Yugoslavia, for Road a year long (1958), inspired to the ' strikes upside down'; later in the USSR, for Attack and retreat (1964), that illuminates the human, correct backstage of an unfair war. The other film realized in country by the director - La garçonnière (1960), Un apprezzato professionista di sicuro avvenire (1972) -are the results of dignified compromises. He returns to the direction in 1995 with "Oggi è unaltro giorno"; in 1997 he dies for a heart attack.
1948: Festival of Karlovy Vary: special mention (The tragic hunt)
(From "Il Cinema grande storia Illustrata" Vol.3, De Agostini 1981)