1952 | Italian Neorealism | 89 minutes | Italian with English subtitles
Umberto is an elderly retired civil servant unable to live on his annual pension. He returns one day to his one-room apartment only to be told by the landlady that he’s being evicted for non-payment of rent. Umberto sells his watch and some books but the money he received will barely cover the rent due. The landlady refuses to accept what he offers. She is convinced she’ll make more money renting the room by the hour. Feeling ill, Umberto gets himself admitted to a hospital. After he receives care, he is discharged. When Umberto returns to his apartment, he is shocked to see the entire building being renovated. While Umberto was in the hospital, his beloved dog, Flag, escaped through a gaping hole in the room. Umberto rushes to the dog pound and is overjoyed to find Flag there. But now Umberto has no home, no money, and he needs to support both himself and his dog. He contemplates suicide, but then, what will happen to Flag? In desperation, Umberto takes his dog in his arms and heads to a railway track as a speeding train approaches. Sensing danger, Flag wiggles free and flees. Umberto chases after Flag and after much effort, catches him. Yes, Umberto is still homeless and penniless. But he does have his beloved dog Flag.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 97%
- Metacritic Score: 92
Cannes Film Festival: Vittorio De Sica was nominated for the Grand Prix
New York Film Critics Circle Award: Winner, Best Foreign Film
TIME Magazine, 2005: Listed in the “All Time Best 100 Movies”
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Vittorio De Sica’s UMBERTO D is the story of an old man’s struggle to keep from falling from poverty to shame. It may be the best of the Italian neorealist films—the one that is most simply itself and does not reach for effects or strain to make its message clear. Perhaps his best luck is simply that he has the inner strength to endure misfortune without losing self-respect.
The credo of Italy’s fabled neorealist movement was that movies noted in real, unadorned experience, carry more dramatic impact than studios concoctions can dream of. This 1952 masterpiece exemplifies that brilliantly.
One of the great humanist cinema works: a portrayal of age, poverty and simple lives in postwar Rome that is both luminous and heartbreaking
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