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Umberto D.

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Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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.
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Special Features

High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack; That's Life: Vittorio De Sica, a fift-five-minute documentary about the director's career, made for Italian television in 2001; Interview with actress Maria Pia Casilio from 2003; Trailer; Plus: a booklet featuring an essayby critic Stuart Klawans and reprinted recollections by De Sica and actor Carlo Battisti
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Eddy Crouse
Chronicling a few days in the life of a retired civil servant, director Vittorio De Sica's enduring Umberto D. is limitlessly moving as it patiently follows its solitary protagonist. Starting with a crowd of elderly bureaucrats lobbying in the streets for a raise, the film pulls back to focus on one, Umberto nonactor Carlo Battisti, who is relegated to a friendless, familyless life of trying to make ends meet. Umberto's only companion is his pooch, Flike, a loyal terrier who becomes the hinge on which his unraveling master's life-and-death decisions swing. De Sica and his screenwriter, Cesare Zavattini, had always entertained the provocative idea of filming 24 hours in the life of a man to whom nothing happens -- nothing huge, that is. Umberto's case is a matter of the smallest, simplest things -- foraging for food, paying rent, coping with illness and loneliness -- that combine to pack a devastating emotional wallop. One look at the unbelievably powerful scene in which the old man treats his sore throat -- in calmly ticking real time -- seals the film's status as a classic of Italian neo-realism. Pulling none of its punches, Umberto D. indeed remains the masterpiece to beat in portraying aging and its discontents.
All Movie Guide
A masterpiece of Italian neorealism, Vittorio De Sica's Umberto D. would also prove to be the last great film from the movement. This poignant story about a poor retiree facing eviction dutifully follows the neorealist template, with its plotless narrative, location shooting, and nonprofessional actors. Not unlike the movement's other exemplars, Umberto D. doesn't entirely sidestep sentimentality. Indeed, any movie about an old man and his faithful -- and amazingly well-trained -- dog is bound to come across as cute or cloying at certain points. Nonetheless, the purity of expression is undeniable. De Sica captures the vicissitudes of a difficult life with unblinking earnestness and affectless nobility. His moral outrage tempered by his eloquent style, De Sica laces this social tract with a touch of tenderness; it's a graceful movie about callousness and despair. It's a film of unexpected beauties as well. One scene in particular stands out, a seemingly extraneous bit about the landlady's maid rising for the day and doing her early morning chores. Neither advancing the movie's plot nor its political agenda, this sublime scene comes closest to approximating the stated neorealist dictum of capturing dailiness unvarnished. Apparently, the dailiness was too much for some: despite winning international praise, De Sica's portrait of an indifferent society was savaged by some politicians for presenting a negative view of Italy to the world.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/4/2012
  • UPC: 715515098212
  • Original Release: 1952
  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: A
  • Presentation: Subtitled / B&W / Full Frame
  • Time: 1:28:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 17,436

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Carlo Battisti Umberto Domenico Ferrari
Maria Pia Casilio Maria
Lina Gennari Landlady
Ileana Simova Surprised Woman
Elena Rea Sister
Memmo Carotenuto Voice Only
Alberto Albani Barbieri Fiance
Lamberto Maggiorani
Technical Credits
Vittorio De Sica Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Giuseppe Amato Producer
Alessandro Cicognini Score Composer
Aldo Graziati Cinematographer
Virgilio Marchi Production Designer
Nino Misiano Production Manager
Eraldo Da Roma Editor
Cesare Zavattini Screenwriter
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Baby Boomers Primer...

    A good and sensitive presentation of the world of an elderly man and the "world" that he lives in, how he is treated and how he treats it. While 60 years separate the film from today it causes a Boomer to wonder..."what will my world be like in twenty-five years"?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews