When I asked Anime Nere director Francesco Munzi what directors of his generation are doing differently, he told me that they are looking past their fathers to their grandfathers for inspiration, and he’s undoubtedly talking about directors like Vittorio De Sica.
One of the greats of the neorealists, many of his films are so overwhelmingly sad that I have vowed never to watch them again, and even a glance at pictures of Umberto D or The Bicycle Thieves is devastating. To say that the effect De Sica and his contemporaries had on cinema worldwide was monumental is an understatement.
Will Italian cinema ever again seen a film like De Sica’s Two Women, with Sophia Loren? Probably not; Italian directors are finally trying to make their own way, telling their own stories, but they owe great debts to those like Vittorio De Sica, who saw poverty, loneliness, and desperation and makes us, even to this day, see it too; really see it, and feel it in a way that can’t be ignored.
His intense and yet beautifully delicate character studies in combination with the social and political topics that plagued postwar Italy are still praised, plagiarized, and studied and his legacy is one of Italian cinema’s greatest assets.