I believe that it may have been either in 1989 or 1990 during my stay in Italy, when I first saw this television mini series. I guess that it is an interpretation of Edmondo De Amicis' late 19th century immortal classic novel 'Cuore' (translated as 'Heart' from the Italian noun). As I am aware, the novel is also part of the Italian junior school language and literature learning program, and I have heard nothing but praise from all those that have read this novel. Therefore, I cannot really comment about the comparisons of how the novel ties with the mini series, but if the novel is as good as the mini series, then from what I have seen, it would class as a masterpiece.. I have never found an English translation of this novel, but nevertheless, the mini series is a superlative display of traditional values and morals which would be the dream of any parent having young children at school.
I was moved by the ethos that this mini series portrays, as it is centered around the memoirs of some soldiers at war, who reminisce on their memorable primary school days of when they were boys. These flashbacks make up the majority of this mini series. The morals in this mini series are exceptional and also shows how much has changed in the primary school system in the last hundred years. The school teacher Perboni plays the part of an ideal Victorian school teacher with excellent paternal instincts, having a genuine interest in all his pupils as if they were his own children.. Although all the young boys have their own unique and interactive character, two that stood out in my mind were Garrone (the gentle giant, being the tallest and stockiest of the pupils) and Franti (the rebellious little brat, but a good child at heart).
The scenes are focused on the normal interactions in a classroom of pupils from all different walks of life. Muratorino (Brickie) is nicknamed after his father who is a bricklayer by trade. In one episode, the school master practices his social morals well, when he is asked about an inkwell that was carved with a nail by a pupil's father who was serving time in jail while his son was a pupil at that school. At the end of the day, Perboni gathers his pupils together for the viewing of a silent movie that is meant to be educational and entertaining while displaying traditional values.. The pupils are then touched by the theme of the movie and relate it to what they have learnt during their school day, with the exception of Franti who ridicules all his class mates with a grin while they are in tears from emotion. In a later episode, another silent movie is shown to the pupils and this movie ends with a scene where a young boy loses his leg after having saved an army of soldiers from being gunned by the enemy. All the pupils are touched and again reduced to tears while we again expect to see Franti grin, BUT, surprise surprise, he is also moved to tears.
Although a school environment full of compassionate and understanding seems far fetched, the plot and theme can be appreciated in a realistic sense, as not all children were fortunate enough to have had the experience of a school environment at the end of the Victorian era. Hence, even at an early age, children would have felt privileged, therefore taking school much more seriously than they would have many decades later, simply to avoid the poverty of their forefathers. I highly recommend this to anyone that wants to reminisce on their earliest childhood and it always brings out the inner child from within us all.
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