In Umberto D. (De Sica, Dear Film, 1952), director Vittorio De Sica provides the audience many memorable scenes. In post-war Italy, De Sica portrays a style of neorealism which became popular amongst many Italian Directors at the time. In Umberto D, the realism is greatly captured in smooth translation of scenes. The unforgettable character of Mr. Umberto represented the indifference that engulfed society and laid waste to the solidarity that once had existed in early Roman culture. Perhaps the one scene which captures the larger thematic issue of the movie and the dramatic objectives of the director truly belongs to the ending, in which Umberto gives up to what poverty has brought upon him. It was a moment where the authoritarian society, greatly represented by Antonia, greatly won a victory over the prideful, but self-absorbed, Umberto. The film’s cinematography, lighting, and music play a role not to express drama, but are used by De Sica as a force to create a realism which can relate universally to other societal cultures.
The scene begins with Umberto walking Flike in a park where kids were playing and overlooked by their parents and nannies. Umberto’s intentions in the park had been greatly foreshadowed in a previous scene, in which Umberto was overlooking at the trolley trails and the camera zooms in. But Umberto’s mission of finding Flike a home first had failed. Abandoning Flike, Umberto started walking away from the park, which was emphasized by a brightness that in turn can be contrasted to the dark lighting that showed Umberto’s self-absorbedness throughout the film. As he slowly moves back, the music gradually starts and, as the train passes by in the background, it gets louder as if to pronounce the ending Umberto is seeking to relieve his despair. Every step over the white bridge produces a heightened sound not only for Umberto but for Flike as well as he chases his companion. Easily found under the bridge and in the dark, Umberto decides to take Flike along with him. There was no sound as Umberto holds Flike, waiting for the train. De Sica did not choose to emphasize the climactic moment of the film with music. There was only a brief moment of silence, the camera closing up on Umberto and Flike and the train as it howls towards them bringing upon its dark shadows. It was De Sica’s use of no sound in those few seconds, the close-ups, and light and darkness that gave the audience of this narrative a sense of realism unusual amongst other films. It made it that much powerful to the audience when Flike breaks out from Umberto and distracted him from accomplishing his feat. It was a disappointment in Umberto felt by both Flike and the audience. But as Umberto and Flike rekindle their friendship, they play along the distance rejoicing in their hope of life and awaiting whatever uncertainties lay ahead of them. “She’s hoping I’ll die, but I’m not going to.”
In essence, De Sica’s neo-realistic narrative achieves the realism in the breakdown of human spirit. The post-war brought upon inflation and created such social indifferences that it can consume someone. Throughout the entirety of the film, Di Sica achieved such a task through the lighting and the use of music. The darkness of the train reminds us of the dark lighting that reflected the pride Umberto showed. For instance, when he hides in the corner as Flike holds up his hat to get change from the oncoming walkers. The audience also notices an unique use of sound that is not really to dramatize but transition from scene to scene as if it was just telling a story about a poor man. De Sica accomplished an escape for the audience from traditional movies and provided us with reality.