Ok, I'll try to answer some of the problems discussed. But first let me say that I regard Umberto D. as one of the greatest films ever made. A departure from neorealism and a defining film t the same time, I think it is first of all a cinematic poem that is so rich in humanity, beauty and lyricism that I was sitting in awe when i saw it the first time. De Sica's direction is marvellous, and the ending one of the best I've ever had the pleasure to witness on-screen.
Quote:general poverty that leads to visual poverty of the picture, dreadful non-professional actors that destroy all director's effort, forced mawkish sentimentality etc. All this problems are in this movie too.
I cannot agree with this statwement. Visual poverty of the picture? I don't know what copy he watched, but when I saw it on the criterion DVD I was absolutely amazed by its visual beauty. The photography was done by Aldo Graziati, one of the best cameramen ever (Senso, La terra trema) and it shows! The play with light in the film is again one of the best I've seen. The movements and angles chosen also form compositional brilliance.
The main actor is imo a perfect example of a great performance that isn't grounded in "acting". He is believable in what he does through his very being.
As for the sentimentality, of all the neo-realist films I've seen, this film had the least of it. But it's at the same time very emotional. I would call De Sica's direction observational honesty paired with a respect for everything living and vital as well as a forgiving attitude toward human faults. Even the most horrible persons are treated with a restrained anger. De Sica is always showing, never judging himself. But he is so precise in what he does that there is no doubt of his intentions.
The story by Cesare Zavattini one of THE greatest writers in film-history is at once very true-to-life and precise in the description of everyday events, as well as deeply allegoric. Compressed while at the same time leaving an enormous space of interpretation it is for me a prime example of great screenwriting.
What Miklosk finds as lacking,
Quote:Simple (I'd say - banal) story is told straightforwardly, without any crotchets: camera just follow characters and don't express any feelings (excluding the only one scene that I'd like to choose especially - when cat on the roof wakes housemaid Maria - and then she goes to the kitchen, it's strangely but the reality is shown with boundless love in this scene); editing is such impotent that cannot create emotions. Unfortunately, the film is too shallow - no wisdom, no profundity.
is imo an utter lack of involvement with the film.
The film doesn't shove any emotions in your face, instead you have to bring your own emotions to the film. If you are sitting in the park and observing some people walking by only casually you might be bored soon by the banality of life. But it is only this banality that can in the end transcend ordinary life. For if you look closer the whole beauty of existence and of each and every person reveals itself to you.
The editing of the film is not "Impotent", but is the opposite of what you would call editing that calls attention to something. Instead the editing is very precise, staying true to the rhythm of life itself instead of pointing out anything specific.
The film is in the end one of the most complex and profound films that you will possibly encounter in films that deal with the everyday banality of our lives. Because it shows that banality comes only into existence IF WE DON'T PAY ENOUGH ATTENTION TO THE THINGS WE ARE DOING! If you are aware of the world every moment is profound.
In Umberto D. this is exactly what happens to the main character: he gets ignored. So it is up to the viewer to discard this petty notion. The humanity of this film is so big that compared to it most "humanist" classics pale in comparison (e.g. Pather Panchali by Ray - which I admire very much, btw.). But the best thing I can say about this film is that it will ultimately make you a better person after watching it - that is if you watch carefully. For me it was a revelation that showed me once more the power cinema can have in affecting people's lives.
You see I can't even write a proper review of the film, as i get drowned in superlatives describing something that is beyond description. The film is so great that like life itself it becomes impossible to grasp it completely.
To quote Howard's quote in his review of Mallick's "The New World": Truth is beauty, and beauty is truth.
One of the most beautiful films ever created.