Review: Umberto D

Umberto D
Directed by: Vittorio De Sica
Starring: Carlo Battisti / Maria-Pia Casilio
Rating:

Last year I watched De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief in my European Cinema class at college, and was fascinated by Italian Neo-Realism. It seemed so fresh and real to me; something that I could think about weeks after watching the film.

Over the Summer I read about Martin Scorsese’s documentary My Voyage to Italy, in which he talks about and shows clips from Italians films that he grew up with and loves. His passion for the films, coupled with some amazing scenes that were shown, prompted me to go on a crash-course in classic Italian film. I started it off with Fellini’s I Vitelloni, which was a fantastic film, and a definite inspiration for George Lucas’ American Graffiti. I then watched Rossellini’s The Flowers of St. Francis, which had some powerful moments. After that I returned to the director who started it all for me, with Vittorio De Sica’s Umberto D. I’d always seen it near the top of different lists of great films, so I was quite psyched about seeing it.

The film follows Umberto Ferrari, an older man, as he navigates through the latter part of his life. His best friends are his dog and the young maid where he lives. These two characters have a fascinating albeit friendship, albeit strained at times. The comparisons between her flamboyant youth and his reclusive old age cannot be avoided.

Similar in style to The Bicycle Thief, De Sica again takes his story to the street, and casts a no-name actor in the lead role. We’re only shown one portion of Umberto’s life, and while he is a difficult character to like, you still feel certain empathy for him. Carlo Battisti plays the role famously. He tells us everything we need to know through sheer physicality.

In Umberto D., De Sica deals with many social and ethical themes. These range from the way the younger generations deal with the elders in their community, to begging on the streets, and the pride that comes with that. One scene near the end of the film is especially poignant in that area and is masterfully shot.

If you have an interest in Italian Neo-Realism, this is a definite must-see in this viewer’s eyes. Add it to your NetFlix queue and enjoy!

(Also posted at Reel Suave)

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NetFlix Update No. 7

1. Umberto D (Dir. Vittorio De Sica)

Why Did You Pick That?

Still continuing on my classic Italian kick. And I’m especially looking forward to watching this one because I loved De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief very much.
2. Germany Year Zero (Dir. Roberto Rossellini)

Why Did You Pick That?

Same as above…again. 🙂 I’m thinking I’ll have to write up a massive response to Italian cinema eventually and break it up into different posts over time. I’ve found that I really dig neo-realism.
3. Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind (Dir. Hayao Miyazaki)

Why Did You Pick That?

I’m watching this for the LAMB MoTM. But it’s also a good excuse to watch more Miyazaki. I believe the only other film of his that I watched was Howl’s Moving Castle (and part of Spirited Away)

12 Movies in 3 Days…

…if I had to make you watch them.

The craziness started with Piper and has worked it’s way down to me via Nick. Here be the rules (more like guidelines than actual rules):

1) Choose 12 Films to be featured. They could be random selections or part of a greater theme. Whatever you want.

2) Explain why you chose the films.

3) Link back to Lazy Eye Theatre so I can have hundreds of links and I can take those links and spread them all out on the bed and then roll around in them.

4) The people selected then have to turn around and select 5 more people.

So far, from what I’ve seen from the other lists, people have been spreading their films out over a sizable piece of time. Here, however, you play by my rules. We’re going to be watching four films a day from Friday-Sunday. This way you get to have a great weekend and a horrid Monday. Let the festival begin!

Friday: “You mean is has SUBTITLES?!”

WHY? I love these films. The emotion from Three Colors: Blue, the realism of The Birycle Thief, the music in Ikiru, and the power of redemption in The Virgin Spring.

Saturday “Oooookay….”

WHY? A little something to lighten the mood after Friday. We’ve got some Troma, Trey Parker, Weird Al, and an amazing performance from Geoffrey Rush.
 

Sunday You know…the one with the chin?”


(Charlton Heston, Bruce Campbell, King Kong, and Drew Barrymore, respectively, with an ‘honorable’ mention to George Lucas) 

WHY? ‘Cause chins are awesome. 

Well there you have it. Any thoughts? 

I hereby pass this on to the following: (If they so desire)

1. Movie Zeal
2. Movies et al
3. Film for the Soul
4. Film Arcade
5. 353 Review