24 December 2016 | frankwiener
Who among us doesn't fear that one day he or she will meet the fate of Umberto D., a pensioner who discovers that he can't scrape together enough money in order to live? A retiree, such as myself, doesn't have to reside in ravaged, dehumanized, postwar Rome to witness the dreaded nightmare of outliving his or her finances and, even worse, the worry about our dog's fate if we are no longer able to provide the homes that they need? So why do I love this film so much when it causes me so much personal trepidation about my own future--and that of my precious best friend?
Aside from a very talented Napoleone, who plays the dog Flike for all but two dog scenes and manages to steal the show in the process, the two main human actors, Carlo Battisti and Maria Pia Casilio, both remarkably appearing as amateurs, are superb, which is a triumph in itself for the film's accomplished director, Vittorio de Sica. The photography of post-World War II Rome by G.R. Aldo, combined with the highly dramatic music of prolific film composer Alessandro Cicognini, completes the recipe for an outstanding cinematic success that has withstood the test of time. The striking image of Maria standing at the window as Umberto departs in the tram will remain with me for the rest of my life. This film is not only about the relationship of a man and his faithful little dog but about the love between Maria and Umberto in a world that seems to be totally void of compassion.
There are too many memorable scenes in this film to describe in one review, but the one segment that leaves an indelible mark on me is the instance when little Flike, for good reason, momentarily loses faith in his human companion, but I won't reveal any other information about the scene. If that situation alone doesn't deeply move you, I don't know what will.
One doesn't have to be in an advanced stage of life, such as myself, in order to fall in love with this movie. Umberto D's plight is one that should resonate with moviegoers of all ages and economic conditions. Hardship to the point of desperation could happen to any of us at any time. I have learned from adversity that nothing is ever guaranteed, so appreciate all that you have today, don't forget to kiss your precious, little doggie goodnight, and never lose your best friend's trust, not even for a brief moment in time. It will break your heart.