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Umberto D, Ikiru on rice, and paying the check

January 18, 2014

I was thinking of the brilliantly powerful Italian film ,Umberto D, especially the ending when Umberto is broke and destitute and clutching his dog Flike, a is deciding to take both their lives as a train approaches, and the dog squirms in his arms. I won’t ruin the ending, this is just the precipice, but when the man and dog teeter sat its edge the final scene is something that rises a buoyantly blossoming force within my chest that brings me out of myself to a better place. Another film that has a ending like that, with the same impending power, and reaffirmation is Kurosawa’s Ikiru. And I knew why I was thinking of these two films. In Umberto, it’s a man without a job, and in Ikiru, it’s a man whose life is over but he has to draw meaning from it. Oddly, sometimes I think you need art when you’re doing well because you’re not feeling anything close to the traumas and struggles of a protagonist. But when times are tough, you almost don’t need it at all, because everything a great film has, a struggle to survive and still finding meaning, is a fact you’re facing every day. Maybe that’s why you go back to the art you’ve been inspired by when you’re younger, or earning a steady paycheck, which is almost like an illusion too.And to reach into your pocket for art, is like eating junk food after you work out, you feel you’re betraying yourself through an indulgence. It’s easier to forgive yourself when you’re young, but when you get older, you can’t do it–unless of course, you want to be a whining loser. And maybe that’s where the art you’ve digested throughout your life some in, because now you’re the character, struggling for meaning and survival, and somehow you have to discover a way to prevail.



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