Wednesday, November 18, 2009

UMBERTO D. (Italian) (1952)

Umberto D. is another masterpiece from the maker of highly inspirational Italian classic ‘Bicycle Thieves’. De Sica dedicated this film to his father.Umberto Domenico Ferrari is an upright senior citizen and good for nothing old man living last years of his life by selling few last valuables to pay the accommodation rent. He has no one to help him pay his heavy debt. No son, no brother, no relative. The only soul companion of his lonely and struggling existence is his pet dog Flike. What is the role of bicycle in ‘Bicycle Thieves’, here it is this dog. I’ve neither seen any man so desperate to get his lost dog back nor a man who loves a dog to this extent. His bonding with the dog is like two body one soul.

De Sica’s direction and his collaboration with writer Cesare Zavattini made post war neorealist cinema with simple and yet touchy aesthetics on screen. Like classic ‘Bicycle Thieves’ they did manage to structure the emotionally charged & compelling personal story that show the subtlety of human emotions under hopeless conditions. Shot almost at real locations and made with almost non professional actors. Carlo Battisti was a retired Professor and he played the lead role with utmost dignity of his character and he’s another great part of this film. His natural act and authentic expressions creates a permanent impression of character.

Visuals speak emotional sound in De Sica’s films and the film has so many tense and thought provoking scenes. The most heartbreaking scene is one where he mock practice to beg raising his palm and suddenly turns it down when a gentleman offering him few money; next he offered his hat to his dog’s mouth If he could beg, he can get good money to survive like so many but he don’t want to lose his self respect in his own eyes. Another where he said to his maid, “I’m tired”, and thinking about committing suicide. By all means De Sica made us felt these scenes. That’s the greatness of De Sica’s heart wrenching cinema.

Great films don’t require ratings of a novice critic. I’m too small to rate such films.

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