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)

Attack of the Meme

You can blame this on MovieMan0283 at The Dancing Image for starting this up and T.S. at Screen Savour for tagging me. 😉 So before we get to the goodies, here are the rules for the latest Internet fad:

1. You must not have seen any of the films on your list, either in theatres or on video.

2. The films on your list should not be available on Netflix (this will be the criteria for “availability” since it’s too hard to track down what’s available where, to who, etc.)

3. You can organize the list however you want, in themed couplets like Piper’s original list, or just as twelve semi-random films.

4. You must credit and link to my blog, Piper’s blog for getting the original ball rolling, and for good measure, the guys at Out 1 for planting the seed.

5. Tag five people to keep the meme going.

6. If you’re too lazy to follow all of these rules, but still want to participate, you have my blessing (the more the merrier). Except for the rule about linking to my blog. That you still have to obey.

This time around I decided to break the films up into pairs of two, mostly by director. At first I thought that this would be too hard to accomplish (while abiding by the rules, that is), but then I remembered that there were quite a few Italian films that I couldn’t find on NetFlix. So doing some backtracking, and aided by a few bouts of genius, let’s get this party started:

Theme: Vittorio De Sica (Director)
Films: Shoe Shine / The Gold of Naples

Theme: Roberto Rossellini (Director) / Ingrid Bergman (Actor)
Films: Stromboli / Journey to Italy

Theme: Luchino Visconti (Director)
Films: Senso / Days of Glory

Theme: Abel Gance (Director)
Films: Napoleon / I Accuse

Theme: Miscellaneous
Films: Chaplin / Sleuth (1972)

***BONUS FEATURES***

Theme: Hitchcock Films that NEED to Be More Available
Films: Notorious / Rebecca

Honorable Mention:
War of the Buttons (Why is this gem not on DVD yet?)


Obligatory Tags:

Movie Reviews By CaptainD

The Kinetoscope Parlor

YDKS Movies

Celluloid Fire

/Film

(EDIT: Just found out that this is my 100th post. Yay)

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)