Umberto D.

1119. UMBERTO D. (1952-Italy). With CARLO BATT1STI. Screenplay by CESARE ZAVATTINI. Directed by VITORIO DE SICA. The crowning achievement Of Italian Neorealism, this is one Of the most acclaimed films Of all lime! Its screenwriter, Cesare Zavattini, who was also the major theorist Of Neorealism, believed that movies should be about ordinary people in everyday situations-people who reveal their nobility through the struggles Of daily existence. This simple story focuses on a retired civil servant who can barely survive on his meager pension, and whose unfriendly landlady is about to throw him out onto the streets. Befriended only by his little dog and by the boarding house’s sympathetic maid (herself a pathetic victim Of circumstance), Umberto feels the harshness Of postÂwar Italian society, and the alienation Of modern urban life, as he desperately tries to raise funds for his rent. Unlike many others, he refuses to descend to begging, and his situation becomes increasingly hopeless-leading to a shatÂtering conclusion. Director Vittorio De Sica movingly portrays Umberto’s plight, whether he is in a huge, imperÂsonally run hospital ward, or searching through a dog pound to locate his missing pet, or on a railroad track in one Of the most gripping climaxes ever filmed. The film is also justly famous for its unusual departures from plot to obÂserve simple activities Of life, as when the maid awakens and attends to her morning chores. During such scenes, we forget that we are watching a work Of fiction and feel that we are witnessing private moments in real people’s lives! De Sica based the old man on his father, to whom this magnificent movie is dedicated. From the opening shots Of pensioners demonstrating for more dignified treatment, to the final scene Of humanity lost and regained, this is a film lovingly made by people who cared deeply about the subjectÑa feeling communicated to anyone who sees it. As film critic Pauline Kael has said, “A great, pure and compassionate work a rare, transforming experience. In Italian with English subtitles. 88 minutes. Drama