Umberto D (1952)
Frequently mentioned on lists of masterpieces of modern cinema, Vittorio De Sica's Umberto D. transforms a simple character study into a painfully poignant drama. Umberto is an aging former civil servant, now retired on his scant government pension. He spends his time in his tiny room in Rome, with only his longtime pet dog for companionship. His lonely life only grows worse when his limited income forces him to fall behind on his rent, leading his landlady to threaten him with eviction. He makes a desperate attempt to raise the needed money and protest the unfair treatment of senior citizens to the government, but he receives little response. His one chance at human contact, through brief conversations with a pregnant servant, proves sadly disappointing. Indeed, Umberto slowly becomes convinced that the situation may be hopeless, and he ultimately considers committing suicide. Considered one of the high points of Italian neo-realist cinema, Umberto D. provides the ultimate example of the movement's unadorned, observational style, which emphasizes the reality of events without calling attention to their emotional or dramatic impact. The unschooled, natural performances also contribute to the film's feeling of verisimilitude, particularly the lead performance by non-actor Carlo Battisti. … More
as Umberto Ferrari
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as Surprised Woman
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Critic Reviews for Umberto D
...a picture of a man who has been cast into a dehumanizing vortex, largely because of others' indifference.
Even sentimentality is something that springs naturally from the characters' situations. Umberto has an immense amount of pride despite his impoverished conditions and his attempts to survive aren't accompanied by the usual filmic theatrics.
Umberto D. could have been one of the most depressing movies ever made, but instead it's one of the most heartfelt.
A neo-realist classic that is very likely the inspiration for "Wendy and Lucy". The two make for very interesting watching side-by-side.
Um dos melhores exemplares do neo-realismo italiano, pinta um retrato tocante da miséria do pós-guerra ao mesmo tempo em que, sem qualquer melodrama, cria personagens inesquecíveis em suas dores.
De Sica somehow manages to avert sentimentality and banality, and his simple storytelling leaves a profound and timeless message.
De Sica takes a premise that drips with sentimentality and wipes all the sappiness away, leaving only raw action and subtle underlying emotion.
Like Falconetti as Joan of Arc, Battisti offers one of those rare performances that is so perfectly realized, it automatically negates the possibility of any future roles.
Courageously and magnificently champions the life of an apparently insignificant man in a difficult time.
The very concept of believability is challenged: cornball sentiment is approached with such unblinking sincerity that the viewer's given no way to process it except at face value.
Umberto D. is a film of constant desolation, a stalwart example of Neorealist cinema, and a depressive film whose recommendation depends on the benefit of the emotions it successfully elicits.
It's hard to think of a more remarkable tribute to the resilience of the human spirit than the one Umberto D. puts on the screen.
It's a stark snapshot in which all is revealed about the 'daily life of mankind,' as the director once offered by way of description.
One of the truly great Italian neo-realist films
One of the great humanist cinema works: a portrayal of age, poverty and simple lives in postwar Rome that is both luminous and heartbreaking.
This simple, almost Chaplinesque story of a man fighting to preserve his dignity is even more moving for its firm grasp of everyday activities.
Heroes like Umberto D. are hard to find, and your life will be better for having met him.
Audience Reviews for Umberto D
Another neorealist masterpiece made by Vittorio de Sica, it is a truly heartfelt and unforgettable portrait of a poverty-stricken life in postwar Italy, avoiding any sort of easy sentimentality and needing no effort to make us love and care about its struggling character.More
Amongst the countless films we watch day in day out (or week in week out), dealing with the same tired premises, like a breath of fresh air, once in a while, we come across a one of a kind, straight from the heart, simple yet very profound film like Vittorio De Sica's "Umberto D."! The master of Italian Neo-realist cinema has never failed to wow me. "Umberto D" is no exception. Although it doesn't quite match up to the greatness of my personal favourite De Sica film "The Children are Watching Us", it is still a very important and poignant film with a noble message.
Umberto Domenico Ferrari (Carlo Battisti) is an elderly man with apparently no one but his dog Flike by his side. He seems to be living on his pension which itself is not enough to pay off his back rent and his cantankerous landlady (Lina Gennari) keeps threatening to boot him out of the room if the debts aren't settled soon. She apparently has other reasons than just the lack of payments to kick him out and maintains her stand anyway, refusing to even accept part of the payment, saying it is "all or nothing". Soon, Umberto D. realizes the fact that she doesn't want him to stay, no matter what. The film then relates Umberto D.'s desperate attempts at securing a stable shelter for his beloved Flike at least, if not for him.....
The sheer simplicity of Vittorio De Sica's story-telling is astonishing! It is amazing how effortlessly De Sica executes the scenes in his film. Every scene is so down-to-earth, almost like they are real episodes happening in your neighbourhood with real people. There is no glamour here, absolutely no sugar-coating of characters or actors to make them look good and "cinematic"; these are real people; faces representing people you see every day.
It should be noted that most of the actors in "Umberto D." were non-professionals, including the lead actor, Carlo Battisti. This was his first and last film role! Perhaps De Sica wanted as much realism as possible and hence the decision to cast non-actors!
De Sica paints a pretty accurate picture of how people react when it comes to helping others in need. Though not the whole populace, but a majority of them just speak of doing good deeds and being selfless, but when it comes to actually doing something for someone, they shy away. The kind of social apathy shown in "Umberto D" is not exaggerated. Also there definitely are people like the difficult landlady who treats Umberto, a man old enough to be her father, with such disrespect, it is not surprising that Umberto D despises her. There are other characters like the landlady's maid Maria (Maria-Pia Casilio), a young girl who really cares for Umberto and wishes to help him, but is already drowned in problems of her own, including one of her pregnancy from one of her boyfriends (she doesn't know which!), yet both denying their role in it!
The film takes a more somber turn after the first half when the situation seems to turn utterly helpless for Umberto. That is where the real struggle starts; the most painful part of the film, and some scenes can't help but move the viewer. It is in this part also that the most intelligent, unpredictable, and somewhat disturbing scenes of the film unfold. Most De Sica films have an effect on the viewers and tend to make them miserable by the end. "Umberto D" is no different, yet it is definitely uplifting as compared to some other De Sica films!
The acting from some of the cast is the weak point of the film but let us not forget, as mentioned above, most of the actors weren't professionals. In spite of that, the lead actor Carlo Battisti delivers a sensitive, heartfelt performance. If I hadn't read that he is not a professional I wouldn't believe it, except in a couple of awkward scenes where it becomes slightly visible. As for Maria-Pia Casilio, this girl is a dead giveaway and practically exposes the fact that she isn't an actress as she holds the same deadpan, wooden expression on her face in all of her scenes! Although she looks pretty cute with her doll-face, she can't act to save her life, and it shows! The landlady, Lina Gennari on the other hand does a decent job.
Special mention must be made of the clever little mutt, the dog, Flike. Now how on earth De Sica managed to get the dog to do all those things is something awe-inspiring! Of course, they have trainers for dogs and I suppose this trainer must've been a real pro! Suffice to say that Flike is the only "actor" in this film that rivals Carlo Battisti's performance! It is a priceless act; kudos to the team of trainers and De Sica for pulling off the job with the animal!
All you folks young and old, must certainly look "Umberto D." up. It is a striking example of how much "substance" matters. Good content is all that is necessary to make a great film. You don't need style, sex, glamour or violence.
the realism and simplicity of this film is penetrating. probably even better than de sica's slightly more well known film "bicycle thieves", umberto just has a charm that helps you resonate with his plight. the end of the film comes upon us a bit too abruptly, but the rest of the film is nearly perfect.More
Ah, Italian Neorealism. This film was alright. The bit with the dog at the end nearly killed me. Ravage a human monstrously and I will be fine. Injure a dog, and I'm coming after your blood....More
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