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Umberto D.

By Eric Allen Hatch | Posted

While The Bicycle Thief (1948) arguably exerted a greater and more immediate impact on film history, Umberto D. (1952) is en route to become neorealist director Vittorio De Sica's most revered masterpiece. The film follows the plight of its titular character, an impoverished pensioner played by Carlo Battisti, as he struggles to make ends meet for himself and his beloved dog while suffering a variety of base humiliations that threaten to topple his will to survive. More modern in tone and structure than The Bicycle Thief, but still using a nonprofessional cast and real-life settings, this film presents its story in a fractured, episodic nature; the common thread linking these moments from a forgotten man's life is the cold shoulder industrial society turns toward its lower classes. De Sica co-scripted this film with Cesare Zavattini, the theorist credited with founding the neorealist school, which made important advancements in demonstrating the political power of narrative film. The new, restored print currently making the rounds is said to be stunningly beautiful.

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