The Italian movie Umberto D. is yet another classic by director Vittorio De Sica, who is also famous for his other movie The Bicycle Thief. The director paints a gloomy picture of an old, haggard and tired man with such sincerity that it leaves little doubt in the reader’s mind regarding the post war condition in a tattered Italy. It’s about an old man, Umberto D. who is trying to make ends meet with his pension amount, which is so meager that he can’t even pay his rent. He tries to sell some of his old possessions to gather a decent sum of money to pay off his bills. However, all his attempts to appease the landlady fail. Soon, he finds himself on the streets, with a suitcase and his beloved dog, Flike.
In my opinion, the movie is about more than an old man’s struggle with poverty. It’s about his attempts to live peacefully and the role that his dog plays in his life. This is one of the best movies that I have seen that depicts a man’s relation with his dog in such details. The movie also tries to touch on the relation between the old man and the housemaid, Maria who is simultaneously dating two guys- the tall one from Florence and the short one from Naples. She is pregnant too, but doesn’t know who the father is. However, I feel that the housemaid doesn’t add much to the story.
At one point, Umberto, unable to pay the rent, checks himself into a local, public hospital in order to save money. He returns back to his rented room to see that that the houselady is renovating the entire house and plans to merge Umberto’s room with another room to make enough space for her future husband. Umberto realizes that whatever he does, the landlady won’t change her mind.
Begging doesn’t come easily to him either. As a person who has seen better days, he is scared that he might get caught in the demeaning act by someone he knows. Take a look at this scene from Youtube:
Losing all hope, he vacates the apartment and wanders on the streets trying to find a house for his dog. He talks to a couple of who take care of dozens of dogs. Unsatisfied with the way the dogs are kept, Umberto walks away. Next he goes to a playground and tries to convince a small girl to take his dog for free. He also summons all his energy to run away from the dog while the latter is busy playing with some kids in the park. However, the dog locates him soon.
He is about to end his life by jumping in front of a moving train when the dog, Flike escapes from the old man’s grip, breaking Umberto’s concentration and as a result, saves both his and his master’s life.
** SPOILER WARNING**
You can take a look at the last part of the movie here:
The subtitles are as excellent as the performance of the actors, who are raw and natural. In fact, the actors were untrained and this is what gives the movie a new flair. De Sica tells gives an honest voice to a normal man’s life and is considered to be his finest work. It becomes evident pretty soon that he won’t show you hope where there is none, but he will show you life as it is, without any frills. If you like watching unrealistic movies with happy endings, skip this one.