Umberto D

October 21st, 2011

Okay so this post is going to cover a few themes/concepts I found interesting in this film!

First I want to start with the concept of boundaries and privacy or lack thereof.  This idea of having no privacy or boundaries is expressed strongly in every scene that takes place in the apartment building.  Umberto clearly has no lock on his door which is evident due to the fact that his land lady uses his flat when he is gone for the secret sexual escapades of her vile friends.  Also, the walls of this building are so thin that when the land lady is singing from down the hall behind a closed door her voice still pierces the ears of Umberto as he is trying to rest.  The greatest example of the lack of boundaries to me was when Umberto arrives at his flat to see the entire place ripped apart by construction workers.  There were holes in the walls, wallpaper falling everywhere, his bed covered in debris.  This was the ultimate slap in the face.  All he had was in that flat, everything that made him who he was and it was now gone, destroyed.  There was nothing left of himself in the place he had lived.  All privacy had been stripped from his life and there were no longer any boundaries. The holes in the walls represent the holes in his life.


Another concept I found fascinating was friendship.  Today I believe we throw the word friend around too quickly.  One might say “Oh thats a friend of mine from school” but in reality you know that you would never call them to hang out outside of class nor would you call them if you were in need of someone to talk to on a rough day.  I believe this film is a reminder of what true friendship is.  Umberto’s relationship with his dog is not exactly what one would call a “friendship” but its so very close.  Flike is Umberto’s closest companion.  This dog would never leave him and is always there to cheer him up if he is having a bad day or stand on the street and beg for money when Umberto is too ashamed to do it himself.  Loyalty, dedication, selflessness, compassion.  These are all characteristics I look for in a true friend or companion and I just find it so sad that the world is so cruel to Umberto in this film that the only place he can find these qualities are within his dog.  What does this say of the world he is living in? This leads me to my last point.

I wanted to also discuss the idea of the blatant dismissal of the elderly.  I was so confused by how terrible society was treating this old man.  His land lady who Umberto even implies was like a daughter to him at one point could care less if he has anywhere to live.  Employees at local restaurants give him dirty looks and terrible attitudes and dismiss him as a crazy old man.  It just made me realize that I see that happen every day.  Someone is always yelling about how irritating old people are or how when their family members are old enough they are going to send them away to a home.  Its again just very sad to see such a realistic portrayal of the life of an elderly character struggling to make ends meet.

Can You Say God Complex?

October 21st, 2011

The character Charles Kane is so very interesting.  He seems to have such good intentions even though everything must be done his way.  He has this desire to become a leader, a voice for the people and save them.  He desires to be president of the United States.  Kane is a strong character, stubborn and determined. The underlying God complex and subtle references to religion are what really interested me about this film and about Kane.

The very beginning of the movie introduces Xanadu, the luxurious estate that belonged to Charles Kane.  It was described as containing priceless art and antiques as well as “the largest private zoo since Noah’s ark”.  This to me was not even something I noticed until the movie ended! After the movie was over I sat there for a few moments and thought well Holy Crap! They foreshadowed Kane’s personality perfectly just by describing his home.

This reference to Noah’s ark was what hit me.  Noah was called upon by God to save every species of the world.  He was there to help all those that could not help themselves.  This is exactly what Charles Kane wanted.  He wanted so badly to be a voice for those who could not speak for themselves on a public platform; the working class man, the underpaid, the underfed.  However, there is a huge difference here between Noah and Kane.  Noah did his part to save all species of the world to please God, Kane wanted only to please himself.  Of course his intentions were good but there is no denying that his ultimate goal was to obtain the love of the people, to be the one they looked to with admiration.  Kane wanted to do the work of Noah to be loved as if he were God.





Analysis Assignment #1

October 17th, 2011

Scene Analysis: From Citizen Kane (directed by Orson Welles, RKO, 1941)
Analysis of the Breakfast Montage Scene:
This scene consists of many fast cuts and repetitive shots but they all come together to create a certain mood.

Starts with a dissolve into a straight long shot (2 shot) of Kane and his wife Emily sitting closely together at the breakfast table. The camera zooms in slowly on this shot to a medium close up of the couple
The next 6 shots are back and forth close ups of the two characters as they exchange conversation about their relationship
There is then a dissolve to the next series of 4 shots: The dissolve implies the passage of time
These four shots are medium close ups as well of each character as they continue to discuss their relationship
In this scene the characters are no longer sitting near eachother but rather at opposite ends of the table and there is a flower centerpiece in between them

After these 4 shots a dissolve then brings the audience further in time to the same setting with the characters
After this dissolve there are again 4 back and forth shots of medium close ups of the two characters
Again there is a dissolve that is followed by two very quick shots (MCU straight shots) one of each character:
By this time the characters conversation has become shorter and more rigind
-These shots were then followed by another dissolve: this dissolve is followed by one MCU of Emily which cuts to a MCU shot of Kane which transitions to a simultaneous zoom out and pan right.
The ending shot is one of the whole dining room. This shot allows the audience to really see the distance between the two characters physically which implies their distance emotionally.

The sheer genius of this scene for me is in the framing and the editing but first, lets talk about the framing.

Framing: The framing of the short takes were all close to MCU’s (medium close ups) and they were for the most part straight on. The straight forward tight framing of the shot allowed the viewer to focus closely on the attributes of the actors and their expressions and how they were aging. Many of the MCU shots in this scene also had medium depths of field, all the items in the foreground and mid ground were in focus.

Editing: Welles uses the dissolve to move from one series of shots to the next so perfectly in this montage because it implies that there is a significant passage of time.  There is a continuity in the editing. The eyeline between shots of the two characters always makes perfect sense.  Also the quickness of the cuts between shots from one MCU to another really enhances the quickness of the conversations between a husband and wife whose marriage was falling apart.