Umberto D. (1952)- A Heartbreaking Tale on Human Sentimentality and Desolation

Poverty is a trouble maker everywhere. People waiting in long queues for their pension. People struggling to make their ends meet on streets. People running short of money and falling into debt traps. People unable to pay off their interests and becoming prone to insolvency. The system has been cruel for the old timers, helpless and retired sections of the society. Only a few people share such far-sighted vision of an auteur like Vittorio De Sica. This masterful Italian filmmaker has given a new direction to desolated people and has intense ways of exploring poverty-stricken lives in Italy. De Sica’s films have equal moments of human sentimentality and can be heartbreaking to core. I had never imagined a film like “The Bicycle Theives” would peel off my skin, get inside and take shape of my body for days. The film did help me enlarge my vision on human aesthetics and is a permeating research on the Italian socio-cultural landscape.

There are a million memories to share, discover, and live with Umberto and Flike, as these characters teach us so many things about life, the ways to live it, and dodge away suffering, distraught and depression when they come blasting at us. I watched Umberto D. on a recommendation from someone very special. In fact, this was the person I met on my trip to UK, and we have developed an endearing connection with one another now. We are pen pals and keep exchanging words every week every now and then. Umberto D. is indeed a signature to Italian cinema and also helped me understand certain details about Italian lifestyle which I couldn’t much relate with earlier on in life. Here are a few words on this film which I would love to share with the rest of my colleagues on WordPress.

As usual, the 1950s scale of Italian cinema was concentric towards sweet and simple life of humans. Excluding the works of Fellini when compared with De Sica, as it’s rather hysterical to note how different the notions and style of filmmaking these two people from the same land have. One is articulate on viewing the conventional side of Italian society by using a sweet aroma of filmmaking, sometimes sprinkled with little facets of haute couture culture and solitude too, Fellini is regarded as the “Father of Italian Cinema”. Speaking about the other half, he may be as successful and celebrated as the mighty Fellini but the style is entirely different here. De Sica slices through distraught, poverty, helplessness, and the very conventional lifestyle of those human beings who are on the verge of being discarded. Primitive and extensive on his research, he glances through the streets of Rome, irrespective of the colossal differences and gaps between people in terms of culture, wealth, and inner character.

Perhaps, it is a thing of beauty for the master filmmaker to view everybody through the same lens, as in using common eyes, law and regulations on all sections of people. He is unbiased and loves delving into the broken lives of the vulnerable men, thus providing them a medium to highlight their thoughts, emotions, and all the other concerns pestering them and their insufferable lives. Umberto D. is a neorealist take on cinema and follows the turbulent life of an old timer and his dog prowling on the streets of a city where there is an extremity of ignorance, selfishness, and arrogance. In search of meaning and a little help from his acquaintances, we observe the protagonist crumbling and getting low on morale, thus later falling to depths of helplessness and depression.

The film also speaks about finding certain ways of elevating your mind, body and soul when going through tough times. A little happiness can sweep all sadness away. It is an influential tearjerker looking at Umberto and Flike swoosh away their desolation, and finally cherishing the taste of cherry by finding happiness through the most tiny, insignificant moments in life. A beautiful work of human travesty which is done with perfection having non-professional actors being casted for this film. Except a little errors in pacing which I felt were deviating at times, all rest assured that every other technical component was in balance with one another.

“Umberto D.” is the answer to Italian cinema just as how “Anand” and “Ikiru” means to Indian and Japanese cinema respectively.








Please do watch this film for sure. And if you have watched and reading this article, please do let me know about your opinions on this.

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