Tear-jerker movies – you may love them or hate them – but you are unlikely to remain indifferent to the stories they tell. Some of the best emotional films in the Coming-of-Age genre were made in the 60’s and the 70’s, and the majority of them were filmed in Italy. Titles such as the 1978 Last Feelings (L’ultimo sapore dell’aria), the 1966 Luigi Comencini film Misunderstood (Incompreso) and the 1974 Last Moments (Il venditore di palloncini ) are just few of the many classic films that have touched audiences and inspired filmmakers through the years.
Undoubtedly the most popular film from that period – often used to define the genre – is the 1973 Raimondo Del Balzo movie The Last Snows of Spring (L’ultima neve di primavera). Starring the best known Italian child actor of the 70’s, Renato Cestiè, the movie tells the story of ten-year-old Luca who feels neglected by his widower father, Roberto. Roberto is a busy lawyer who is preoccupied with work and his own affairs and spends very little time with his son (who is also attending boarding school). He fears that Luca will not approve of Veronica, his newest girlfriend, but decides to give it a try by taking both of them on a seaside vacation.
Luca meets Veronica, a passionate woman who tries her best to convince the young boy that she is not trying to steal his father from him. They became friends and spend many wonderful moments together while the father continues to pay more attention to his work than to either of them – even while on vacation. One day Luca witnesses Veronica and his father kissing passionately. Shocked, he feels betrayed. When the vacation is over, Luka feels even more neglected. The father, who he idolized despite his shortcomings, has disappointed him. Observing Luka’s sulking mood, Roberto decides to make it up by arranging a ski vacation in the mountains – just the two of them. They have a wonderful time together – until an accident happens. Luca collapses and is diagnosed with Leukemia. The tragedy is that at the end of his short life, Luca finally gets what he always wanted – the love and affection of his father.
The Last Snows of Spring (1973) Original Poster
Despite the tragic ending, Raimondo Del Balzo’s film does not feel down nor depressing for the majority of its length. The vacation scenes, the funny dialogues Luca has with a girl classmate, the genuine love and hero-worshipping that the boy feels for his father are delightful to watch. Unlike some modern day films (one that comes to my mind is the 2011 drama Bringing Up Bobby), The Last Snows of Sping story goes through several transformations without losing its appeal and main focus. The young lead, Renato Cestiè, is not only a cute and adorable kid, but he delivers an excellent performance, which all fans of the Coming-of-Age genre are guaranteed to appreciate.
One of the most notable features of the Italian films are their soundtracks. Franco Micalizzi’s score is melodic and sentimental and really enhances the emotional value of the story in The Last Snows of The Spring. A unique combination of piano, guitar and strings results in a heart-rending and memorable soundtrack.
While some may call tear-jerker films manipulative, the stories they relate always manage to engage the viewer. In the Coming-of-Age genre, the majority of the films feature a terminal illness. And while the death of a child is dolesome to watch, films such as The Cure, Oscar et la Dame Rose and Matching Jack are cinematic masterpieces that everyone should see. The Last Snows of Spring is frequently considered the film that influenced the movies I just mentioned and is well worth your time.