Umberto D (Vittorio de Sica, Italy, 1952)

This is the place to talk about films from around the world.

Umberto D (Vittorio de Sica, Italy, 1952)

Postby MikLosk » Sat Feb 11, 2006 8:51 am

Indigent pensioner in poverty-stricken post-war Italy barely makes both ends meet. He spends almost all his money for a food for his dog (he madly loves it!). The landlady of the flat where he rents room dreams of the moment when she will be able to evict him: she's tired of his permanent debts and want to have more floor space. At last she starts repair and he has to go away and knock about the world. He thinks of suicide but what about his only beloved creature - the dog?..

Neorealists cannot but irritate: general poverty that leads to visual poverty of the picture, dreadful non-professional actors that destroy all director's effort, forced mawkish sentimentality etc. All this problems are in this movie too.

Simple (I'd say - banal) story is told straightforwardly, without any crotchets: camera just follow characters and don't express any feelings (excluding the only one scene that I'd like to choose especially - when cat on the roof wakes housemaid Maria - and then she goes to the kitchen, it's strangely but the reality is shown with boundless love in this scene); editing is such impotent that cannot create emotions. Unfortunately, the film is too shallow - no wisdom, no profundity. Sentimental melodrama and no more. One of the greatest disappointments of last time for me.
4/10

P.S. My disappointment is so great that I don't know what to write so excuse me for such short review on the classic movie.
MikLosk
 


Re: Umberto D (Vittorio de Sica, Italy, 1952)

Postby trevor826 » Sat Feb 11, 2006 12:10 pm

Just when I thought it was actually going somewhere, the film finished. That was my reaction to Umberto D, not exactly De Sica's finest hour. Miklosk, I'd like to hear your opinion on "Bicycle Thieves", hopefully you'll have something more positive to say about that.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 

Re: Umberto D (Vittorio de Sica, Italy, 1952)

Postby MikLosk » Sun Feb 12, 2006 11:04 am

Trev, I saw Bycicle Thieves long time ago. My thoughts about it were rather positive, but now I'm not sure. I'm disappointed in De Sica and Rosselini. They seem to be too sentimental and impotent in directing, and that terrible non-professional actors... So I don't know what I'd said if I saw Bycicle thieves today. It should be rewatched by me, but honestly I don't want to see it again.
MikLosk
 

Re: Umberto D (Vittorio de Sica, Italy, 1952)

Postby wpqx » Tue Feb 14, 2006 3:41 am

Before you condemn Rosellini watch Voyage in Italy, certainly one of the best Italian films ever made, and with professional actors to boot. I'll admit that much of neorealism is sentimental and sappy, hence the reason that Bunuel's Los Olvidados is much more potent today than most of those films. I did enjoy Umberto D, but I can agree with what you say. The acting in The Bicycle Thief I for one found to be quite good for non-professionals.
wpqx
 

Re: Umberto D (Vittorio de Sica, Italy, 1952)

Postby MikLosk » Tue Feb 14, 2006 9:23 am

wpqx, I watched Voyage to Italy, and did enjoy it. I said about neorealism, not about Rosselini's creativity as a whole.
MikLosk
 

Re: Umberto D (Vittorio de Sica, Italy, 1952)

Postby A » Sat May 20, 2006 9:38 pm

Ok, I'll try to answer some of the problems discussed. But first let me say that I regard Umberto D. as one of the greatest films ever made. A departure from neorealism and a defining film t the same time, I think it is first of all a cinematic poem that is so rich in humanity, beauty and lyricism that I was sitting in awe when i saw it the first time. De Sica's direction is marvellous, and the ending one of the best I've ever had the pleasure to witness on-screen.

Miklosk said:
Quote:general poverty that leads to visual poverty of the picture, dreadful non-professional actors that destroy all director's effort, forced mawkish sentimentality etc. All this problems are in this movie too.

I cannot agree with this statwement. Visual poverty of the picture? I don't know what copy he watched, but when I saw it on the criterion DVD I was absolutely amazed by its visual beauty. The photography was done by Aldo Graziati, one of the best cameramen ever (Senso, La terra trema) and it shows! The play with light in the film is again one of the best I've seen. The movements and angles chosen also form compositional brilliance.
The main actor is imo a perfect example of a great performance that isn't grounded in "acting". He is believable in what he does through his very being.
As for the sentimentality, of all the neo-realist films I've seen, this film had the least of it. But it's at the same time very emotional. I would call De Sica's direction observational honesty paired with a respect for everything living and vital as well as a forgiving attitude toward human faults. Even the most horrible persons are treated with a restrained anger. De Sica is always showing, never judging himself. But he is so precise in what he does that there is no doubt of his intentions.
The story by Cesare Zavattini one of THE greatest writers in film-history is at once very true-to-life and precise in the description of everyday events, as well as deeply allegoric. Compressed while at the same time leaving an enormous space of interpretation it is for me a prime example of great screenwriting.

What Miklosk finds as lacking,
Quote:Simple (I'd say - banal) story is told straightforwardly, without any crotchets: camera just follow characters and don't express any feelings (excluding the only one scene that I'd like to choose especially - when cat on the roof wakes housemaid Maria - and then she goes to the kitchen, it's strangely but the reality is shown with boundless love in this scene); editing is such impotent that cannot create emotions. Unfortunately, the film is too shallow - no wisdom, no profundity.
is imo an utter lack of involvement with the film.
The film doesn't shove any emotions in your face, instead you have to bring your own emotions to the film. If you are sitting in the park and observing some people walking by only casually you might be bored soon by the banality of life. But it is only this banality that can in the end transcend ordinary life. For if you look closer the whole beauty of existence and of each and every person reveals itself to you.
The editing of the film is not "Impotent", but is the opposite of what you would call editing that calls attention to something. Instead the editing is very precise, staying true to the rhythm of life itself instead of pointing out anything specific.
The film is in the end one of the most complex and profound films that you will possibly encounter in films that deal with the everyday banality of our lives. Because it shows that banality comes only into existence IF WE DON'T PAY ENOUGH ATTENTION TO THE THINGS WE ARE DOING! If you are aware of the world every moment is profound.
In Umberto D. this is exactly what happens to the main character: he gets ignored. So it is up to the viewer to discard this petty notion. The humanity of this film is so big that compared to it most "humanist" classics pale in comparison (e.g. Pather Panchali by Ray - which I admire very much, btw.). But the best thing I can say about this film is that it will ultimately make you a better person after watching it - that is if you watch carefully. For me it was a revelation that showed me once more the power cinema can have in affecting people's lives.
You see I can't even write a proper review of the film, as i get drowned in superlatives describing something that is beyond description. The film is so great that like life itself it becomes impossible to grasp it completely.
To quote Howard's quote in his review of Mallick's "The New World": Truth is beauty, and beauty is truth.

One of the most beautiful films ever created.
10/10
A
 

Re: Umberto D (Vittorio de Sica, Italy, 1952)

Postby Anasazie » Tue May 23, 2006 2:05 am

Impotent directing is a strange criticism of Rossellini, have you seen Rome, Open City or Paisa, the guy was a genius with non-professional actors!

I'm not a fan of De Sica, his work is very sentimental and hilariously simple. Not so with Roberto, his work is multi-layered and morally complex, they're not just plain neo-realist films, they're very artful. Even though neo-realist is just another stupid category that was used to box cinema in by stupid critics, I'm sure Rossellini never intended to make a "neo-realist" film, or a film that fits into any pre-defined classification. He was just expressing himself.

I found Umberto D quite dull actually. Too plain, too straight-forward.
Anasazie
 


Return to Film Talk

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 2 guests

cron