A Man’s Best Friend

“Poverty is the worst form of violence.” -Mahatma Gandhi

Umberto D is an Italian film directed by neorealist, Vittorio De Sica. It has a running time of 89 minutes and was released in Italy in January of 1952 and in the United States on November 1955.  In 2005, this film was listed in TIME magazine’s “All-Time 100 Movies”—which in my opinion is a good enough reason to see it.

I’d like to start by saying how much I appreciate watching old films, it gives me an idea of what times were like before and how there are still so many similarities to today. Although the film is in Italian, is black and white, and was from 66 years ago, it’s still pretty relatable from dogs being man’s best friend to financial and economic issues, and the poor being taken advantage of by the rich. 

This film showed situations that, I imagine, are totally heartbreaking to watch.

The part where Umberto lost his dog and went to the animal rescue center was a pretty depressing scene. I felt bad for the man who couldn’t afford to retrieve his pet—how must that feel? It must be so soul crushing, I was just watching it and I couldn’t even bear the pain in the man’s eyes when he realizes he wouldn’t be able to save his best friend.

Umberto walking in the city to see his old friend and tell him about his money problems only to have his friend ditch the topic and ride the bus, it was like he couldn’t leave fast enough. I think in that scene Umberto realized he couldn’t count on anyone but himself (and Flike).

I understand that money doesn’t buy happiness but it does help with making life easier and a little more comfortable. It’s people like Umberto who I look up to, they do not have much but still have so much kindness.

I would recommend this film not only to dog lovers but for people who are like me—privileged. I’m not saying this to brag but Umberto D allowed me to remember how lucky I am with the life I live. I have never worried about my next meal, let alone my dogs, I have never wondered where I would lay my head to rest, or about what I would do if I were ill. This is a film that opens your eyes to the nightmare that some people have gone through or are still going through. It’s amazing to me how there are so many varieties of life on Earth.  

Overall, this isn’t a film you would watch to laugh or feel good.This film is meant to enlighten us on how devastatingly hard it is to get out of poverty and to stay in it. I can only compare Umberto’s situation to the dogs being burned alive in the rescue center—pain, pain, pain then death.

If the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.”

– Charles Darwin

Ericka Frye

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