Umberto D. directed by Vittorio De Sica, tells the story of an elderly man by the name of Umberto Ferrara, who is trying desperately to collect enough money, so that he is able to pay off the debt he owes to his landlady. As we witness the struggle’s Umberto is facing, the audience is also introduced to the parallel struggles of a pregnant young maid that works in Umberto’s building. It is not often that films, especially during these times to depict the struggles of every day life. Im sure that many people were aware of these controversial issues, but to be exposed to them on film, was quite unheard of.
What was most interesting about many of the Italian Neorealist films was there depiction of the working class struggles and the extent of poverty that spread greatly throughout many European countries. Since these films were made during war time, as well post war time we are able to witness the events that the majority of Italians were facing during these turbulent years. Similar to many Italians, Umberto had to figure out a way to adjust to the struggles of life and by doing so he was forced to set aside his pride. He sold his valuables, contemplated suicide, attempted to beg for money and even tried to separate himself from, possibly the only true friend that he had ever known, his dog Flike. Throughout the entire film the audience wonders whether Umberto will triumph or perish.
In the last scene of the film, we are exposed to a great deal of close up shots which effectively reflect the scenes emotional nature and leads us to what seems to be a resolution. In the midst of all the drama Umberto faces, he fails to remember what truly matters in life. We get the sense that he is deciding to continue to live life after all. He realizes the importance of those who love him and the obligations he owes them. Yet we could never be quite sure how Umberto’s life ends up, we are still happy that he has come to accept the situation he is given and move forward.
What else can I say? but that I have always loved Italian Neorealist films such as Umberto D, Bicycle Thieves, La strada and Two Women. They all share that one thing; which is their truthful depiction of reality and the struggles that regular people face during times of hardship. There are not many films made to tell the story of the working class. And even more interestingly enough is that many of the actors used in these films are people that have faced these issues first hand and they are a tremendous contribution to the quality and believability of the film.