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UMBERTO D, 1952
Movie Review

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UMBERTO D,   MOVIE POSTERUMBERTO D, 1952
Movie Reviews

Directed by Vittorio De Sica
Starring: Carlo Battisti, Maria-Pia Casilio, Lina Gennari, Ileana Simova, Elena Rea, Memmo Carotenuto
Review by Jordan Young


SYNOPSIS:

Umberto Domenico Ferrari, an elderly and retired civil servant, is desperately trying to maintain a decent standard of living on a rapidly dwindling state pension. But he's up against his tyrannical landlady, who keeps demanding rent that he can't pay (while renting his room out to prostitutes during the day), and his only friends are the pregnant housemaid and his little dog Flike...

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REVIEW:

In the post-war neo-realism that is a classic imprint of the films of Vittorio De Sica, one expects a soul crushing depression after watching. This film doesn't disappoint in that regard. The main character Umberto D, tries to get through in a very difficult financial time. He tries selling everything he owns, in an attempt for salvation.

It's just a simple story about a man and his dog, Flick, and how hard it was over in Italy immediately after WWII. But the way that De Sica shows us the struggle, is where the beauty and despair comes in. Every chapter in the dvd unfolds in the exact same way Upton Sinclair's The Jungle does; the depression sort of builds on and on and on then just completely takes you over and leaves you craving for some hope at the end.

Carlo Battisi's depiction of this downtrodden character is nothing short of incredible. There gets to be a point in the film where it is clear that the character is contemplating ending it all, and as this is happening, you can feel and realize that it is his only way out of all of this misery. It is still unfathomable to me that Battisi is NOT a professional actor, with the way he takes his viewer's along these emotional heights and depths. This is the beauty of De Sica's films.

They are dark, yet so so simple.

In the same way that I believe Polanski is the master of horror for making you feel the fear rather than viewing some sort of monster, De Sica is the master of depression without a very complex (and ultimately diluted) plot. His steady direction shows us that he knows exactly how to bring you down.

The most touching moment of the film comes when Umberto ignores apeddler. He has become beyond the point of commiserating with thepeople in these hard times, he is just done with them, and, alongthose same lines, he is done with everything that he is doing... but I digress, after Umberto brushes off a peddler, and Flick, well, decides to take matters in to own hands, but you really need to see it for yourself.

This downward spiral is a brutal, but neccessary journey to really get inside the minds of these people at this time. Cesare Zavattini crafts a very carefully laid out dystopian view of this time. He did in fact get a nomination for an academy award for this script as well. De Sica's film is going to make you feel like you were just involved in a knocked down dragged out fight, but these types of feeling are neccessary to really appreciate the beauty.

Also, check out the masterfully crafted Criterion release of this film to pull even more features out of this film. Just take a deep breathe before watching, and enjoy. Remember, it is crucial to really understand the lows of life, so one can really appreciate the highs.

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UMBERTO D


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