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Umberto D. (The Criterion Collection)

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Shot on location with a cast of nonprofessional actors, Vittorio De Sica’s neorealist masterpiece follows Umberto D., an elderly pensioner, as he struggles to make ends meet during Italy’s postwar economic boom. Alone except for his dog, Flike, Umberto strives to maintain his dignity while trying to survive in a city where traditional human kindness seems to have lost out to the forces of modernization. Umberto’s simple quest to fulfill the most fundamental human needs—food, shelter, companionship—is one of the most heartbreaking stories ever filmed and an essential classic of world cinema.

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Umberto D. is one of the enduring masterpieces of Italian neorealism, considered by many to be one of the greatest films ever made. Everything that neorealism represents can be found in this simple, heartbreaking story of an aged Roman named Umberto (played by Carlo Battisti, non-professional actor and retired college professor) who struggles to survive in a city plagued by passive disregard for the post-World War II plight of the elderly. With his little dog, Flike, as his only companion, Umberto faces imminent eviction, and his insufficient pension and failed attempts to raise money lead him to contemplate suicide... if he can find a home for Flike. His dilemma--and director Vittorio De Sica's compassionate, unsentimental handling of it--results in a film of uncompromising grace and authenticity. Like De Sica's earlier masterpieces Shoeshine and The Bicycle Thief, Umberto D. earns its teardrops honestly; if this timeless classic doesn't make you smile and cry, you'd better check for a pulse. --Jeff Shannon


Special Features

  • New high-definition transfer from restored elements with new and improved subtitle translation
  • "This is Life: Vittorio De Sica," a 55-minute Italian television documentary
  • Interview with actress Maria Pia Casilio
  • New essay by critic Stuart Klawans and reprinted recollections on the film by De Sica
  • Writings of Umberto D. by Umberto Eco, Luisa Alessandri, and Carlo Battisti

Product Details

  • Actors: Carlo Battisti, Maria Pia Casilio, Lina Gennari, Ileana Simova, Elena Rea
  • Directors: Vittorio De Sica
  • Writers: Cesare Zavattini
  • Producers: Vittorio De Sica, Angelo Rizzoli, Giuseppe Amato
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: July 22, 2003
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009ME9Z
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,930 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Umberto D. (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Ian Sketney on November 13, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
In 1980 I saw this film at Chapter Arts centre in Cardiff after a lecture from aged but legendary film critic Dilys Powell. She had Umberto D (about a man and his dog for goodness sake) down as her favourite movie of all time. And you've got to remember that she had sat through about 35,000 films in her lifetime. As you might imagine I was fairly intrigued at this prospect. The reality is that this film genuinely delivers like no other, if you like your heart shaken and stirred with something authentic. Now I cry fairly easily at movies when the going gets tough, but this one is truly in a class of its own. In fact the final scenes are so painful and poignant that even 20 years later I cannot recall them without emotion. But ironically this film leaves you feeling better than when you went in about the human spirit, and that's why I think it's ultimately so great.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Christine Wong on June 16, 2005
Format: DVD
Vittorio DeSica's wonderful "Umberto D" was one of the last films of the Italian neo-realism movement and by far its best one. It is also one of my favorite movies ever. The movie's premise is simple: it is a slice of the life of a poor lonely pensioner, Umberto. Throughout the movie, we see Umberto struggle to find money to pay rent to his horrible landlady, love his dog Flike, and deal with the loneliness and disillusionment of the postwar era.

"Umberto D" is a character-driven film. It works very well because of its sharp observations on loneliness and poignant gestures. The gestures evoke powerful feelings without necessitating dialogue. Many of the scenes, even the ones that do not necessarily advance the plot, are hypnotically beautiful in their simplicity. Take, for example, a beautiful scene where Umberto finally needs to beg for money but cannot physically bring himself to do it. He extends his palm up, but when a passer-by stops to give him money, Umberto quickly flips his hand over, as if testing for rain. The film is full of these small gestures that quietly emphasize the desperate loneliness and poignancy of Umberto's situation.

The acting in this film is absolutely superb. Carlo Battisti, despite having never acted before, is wonderful as the titular character; his face is a fascinating blend of stubborn dignity and weariness of life. Maria Pia-Casilio, who plays the maid, is just as good as evoking life's loneliness and quiet desperation. The supporting cast is also very strong.

One of the very few criticisms I have heard of this film is that it is too sentimental and borderline sappy. While some scenes with Umberto and his dog Flike are sentimental, never is it "too" sentimental.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 10, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
It wouldn't be easy to find a film which is more relentlessly moving than Umberto D. Although it is a fairly simple story, the power of the images and characters will remain with the viewer long after the movie ends. The film effectively draws the viewer into the life and struggles of an old man and his dog as their condition becomes increasingly desperate. It is almost painful to watch at times but it is also one of the most beautiful and unforgettable films that I have seen.
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Format: Blu-ray
Director Vittorio De Sica, the famous actor and well renown director who was a major proponent to Italian neorealism of filmmaking and introduced the world to films that would take the world by storm. De Sica had many popular films under his belt such as "Miracle in Milan", "The Children Are Watching Us", "Two Women" and many more. But it was the neorealistic films of De Spica that many remember. Films such as "The Bicycle Thief" and "Shoeshine", films that epitomized showcased the poor and working class in Italy. How one deals with poverty and when desperate, the life changing decisions that are made.

But it was the 1952 film "Umberto D." which De Sica has said is the film which he prefers among all the films that he has made because of its "uncompromising portrayal of the characters and incidents that are genuine and true".

But "Umberto D." was a film that would become noticed now more than when it first screened in theaters in Italy. As Italy tried to move past the neorealism and wanted to show the country as healthy, "Umberto D." continued De Sica's dedication to showcase people living in poverty. According to film critic, Stuart Klawans, "Umberto D." was a film that was despised by the Christian Democratic Part's Giulio Andreotti and it was his party who had control of the government and also the movie production loans and right for pre-censorship over scripts. Andreotti went as far as saying De Sica was guilty of slandering Italy abroad.

Needless to say, the film bombed in the box office in Italy and different parts of Europe despite winning a Bodil Award for "Best European Film". But it appeared that audiences fascination with Italian neorealism was over.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Buckley on August 22, 2003
Format: DVD
Not much more needs to be said. There's no need to gild this lilly, the greatest film ever made. The dog's name is Flag, not Flike! I believe that De Sica chose the name as an homage to another director, the American Clarence Brown, who made The Yearling a few years earlier and the name of the fawn is Flag in that great movie. There's a small irony there: it illustrates De Sica's worldliness, his sophistication, his familiarity with and love of popular culture, especially films. There is not a trace of that charming quality in his masterpieces. Everyone should see Umberto D. Great art is our only shot at becoming civilized. And then see his other incomparable movies: The Children Are Watching Us, Shoeshine (about which Pauline Kael said that if Mozart had made movies, this is what they would have been like), The Bicycle Thief and, especially, Miracle in Milan, which is a comedy -- but not like any comedy you've ever seen. It's bliss. If you want to know what this art form is really like and what it can do to change your life, you need to see these masterpieces of De Sica.
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Umberto D. (The Criterion Collection)
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