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A retired bureaucrat struggles to live on his meager pension in Rome, about to be kicked out of his apartment for back rent, and his only companion his small dog.
For more about Umberto D. and the Umberto D. Blu-ray release, see Umberto D. Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on September 5, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Vittorio De Sica
Writer: Cesare Zavattini
Starring: Carlo Battisti, Maria Pia Casilio, Lina Gennari, Ileana Simova, Elena Rea, Memmo Carotenuto
» See full cast & crew
Umberto D. Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 5, 2012
Nominated for Oscar award for Best Writing, Vittorio De Sica's "Umberto D" (1952) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criteiron. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original Italian theatrical trailer; excellent documentary film made for the Italian television network RAI; and a video interview with actress Maria Pia Casilio. The release also arrives with an 18-page illustrated booklet featuring an essay by Stuart Klawans, an excerpt from Vittorio De Sica's introduction to the 1968 English-language edition of the screenplay for his 1951 film Miracle in Milan, and another excerpt from a June 1951 Epoca magazine piece by linguistics professor Carlo Battisti about being cast as the main character in "Umberto D.". In Italian, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
There was a time when Umberto was a proud man. He had a job, savings and a place to live. Life was good. Then he retired and everything changed. His pension barely covered the rent and he had to use his savings to buy food. Eventually, he spent everything he had.
Umberto now rents a tiny room in an old building owned by a mean and greedy single woman who has given him an ultimatum: pay what you owe or get evicted. Seriously concerned, Umberto quickly sells everything he has – mostly books and a very old watch - and gives the money to the young maid Maria, who has recently discovered that she is expecting a child. But the landlady refuses to accept the money because Umberto is still short a couple of thousand lire.
Desperate to find a place to live, Umberto calls an ambulance and enters a Catholic charity hospital somewhere on the outskirts of the city. He leaves behind his best friend, Filke, a little dog that loves following him around. In the hospital, Umberto is told that he has tonsillitis, but the doctors refuse to operate on him because he is too old. A day later, he is told to leave.
Meanwhile, the landlady lets Filke out on the streets. When Umberto returns and discovers that his friend is gone, he immediately rushes out and begins looking for him. He discovers Filke in a large shelter on the outskirts of the city, where stray dogs are either claimed back by their owners after they pay a hefty fee or killed. On the way back, Umberto sees another pensioner begging. He contemplates earning some "extra" money as well, but quickly abandons the idea.
Realizing that eviction is inevitable, Umberto decides to commit suicide – because this is the only honorable thing a man of his age, without a family and relatives, could do. He places his last clothes in a large suitcase and goes on the streets. He tries to leave Filke with an elderly couple, but they ask him for money and he changes his mind. Umberto then ends up in a beautiful park, right next to a train station, where he tries to give Filke away. When a suspicious young woman refuses to accept his best friend, Umberto heads to the train station, holding Filke in his hands.
Umberto D. is a masterpiece of Italian neorealist cinema and undoubtedly Vittorio De Sica's best film. It tells a bleak and notably pessimistic tale about an elderly man who is essentially stripped of his dignity and forced to consider suicide because his pension isn't enough to cover even his basic expenses.
Unlike other neorealist films from the era, Umberto D. does not look too dated. Part of the reason why has to do with the fact that the camera does not simply document the main protagonist's misery as he struggles to rebalance his life. De Sica's direction creates and maintains a unique sense of intimacy, which leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. There are virtually no melodramatic overtones in the film was well. Today the Dardenne brothers and to a lesser extent Fernando Leon de Aranoa's approaches to filmmaking are very similar.
The main protagonist in Umberto D. was played by Carlo Battisti, a professor at the University of Florence, who never again appeared in a feature film. According to various sources, during the shooting of the film Battisti apparently had a very difficult time remembering his lines, but he is truly sensational as the disillusioned pensioner. There are many sequences where he does not utter a single word, but the camera looks straight into his eyes and the viewer immediately feels his pain.
The script for Umberto D. was written by the great Cesare Zavattini, who collaborated with De Sica on many of his greatest films, including Shoeshine, the first foreign film to win an Oscar award, as well as Bicycle Thieves and La ciociara.
Umberto D. Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Vittorio De Sica's Umberto D. arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"This high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from the original nitrate camera negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS and Pixel Farm's PFClean, while Digital Vision's Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction.
Transfer supervisor: Lee Kline.
Colorist: Roberto Cesario/Cinecitta, Rome."
My only minor complaint here is the presence of some extremely light noise that occasionally creeps in. Black levels might have been slightly elevated, but overall the film's color-scheme is stable and well balanced. Clarity and definition are very good. There are numerous close-ups in the film and none of them have serious limitations. The larger panoramic shots convey strong depth and decent fluidity (see screencapture #15). More importantly, there are no traces of edge-enhancement (which appears to be a common problem with quite a few recent releases of Italian classic films, such as Bicycle Thieves and Miracle in Milan). Grain is present and visible throughout the entire film. There are no serious purely transfer-specific anomalies to report in this review. Large cuts, debris, damage marks, or splices do not plague the transfer either. To sum it all up, the Blu-ray release of Umberto D. represents a solid upgrade in quality over its DVD counterpart. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Umberto D. Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: Italian LPCM 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm optical track print. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated workstation."
There are no serious technical issues with the lossless Italian track to report in this review. It has an appropriate for the film's age limited dynamic amplitude, but clarity is indeed very good. Generally speaking, the dialog is stable, crisp, and easy to follow. Occasionally, Alessandro Cicognini's score makes an impression, but it must be said again that overall dynamic activity is limited. For the record, there are no dropouts or high-frequency distortions.
Umberto D. Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Umberto D. Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Umberto D. is a masterpiece of Italian neorealist cinema and undoubtedly Vittorio De Sica's best film. It tells a simple but enormously moving story that anyone can relate to. The film's transition to Blu-ray is very pleasing. As usual, all of the supplemental features from the DVD release have been transfered to the Blu-ray. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Umberto D. Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Criterion Blu-ray in September: De Sica, Carné, Fincher, Bartel - June 15, 2012
After much speculation, the Criterion Collection has posted their full roster of Blu-ray releases for September 2012. Titles include Vittorio De Sica's Umberto D., Marcel Carné's Les visiteurs du soir & Children of Paradise, David Fincher's The Game, and Paul ...
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