Thursday, May 03, 2018

Vittorio De Sica: 'Umberto D.' (1952)

Vittorio De Sica's Umberto D. (1952) focuses on the plight of Umberto Domenico Ferrari (Carlo Battisti, 1882-1977), a pensioner trying to scrape by on his small fixed income. His only real friends are his little dog Filke and Maria (Maria-Pia Casilio), a pregnant housemaid in the building where he rents a room. Human cruelty in the film is personified by the landlady, and indifference is encountered in almost everyone else.
What I like best about Umberto D. is the comparison and contrast between Umberto's need for scrounging money before he's kicked to the curb and the day-to-day rituals maintained of necessity by Maria, even while she's pregnant courtesy of one or another soldier (she's not sure which). One cannot help but sympathize with them both. 
Filke is a pretty clever dog, by the way.  

I earlier posted on Ladri di biciclette / Bicycle Thieves (1948), another Vittorio De Sica masterwork, here

As I noted in that post, this film and several others somewhat like it are part of "Italian Neorealism," a group of down-to-earth tales set in the immediate post-war years (and even during the war), lasting from about 1943 until about 1952. Why "Neorealism?" Because it is sort of a sequel to "Social Realism" exemplified in works by Émile Zola (1840-1902) and Maxim Gorky (1868-1936). As conditions improved, the desire to make or see such "blues" films largely tapered off. But they are great works of art and very much wonders to behold.

Today's Rune: Flow. 

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Does not sound terribly upbeat, but realistic of the lives of many