Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism

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Princeton University Press, 1986 - 443 pages
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The movement known as neorealism lasted seven years, generated only twenty-one films, failed at the box office, and fell short of its didactic and aesthetic aspirations. Yet it exerted such a profound influence on Italian cinema that all the best postwar directors had to come to terms with it, whether in seeming imitation (the early Olmi), in commercial exploitation (the middle Comencini) or in ostensible rejection (the recent Tavianis). Despite the reactionary pressures of the marketplace and the highly personalized visions of Fellini, Antonioni. And Visconti, Italian cinema has maintained its moral commitment to use the medium in socially responsible ways--if not to change the world, as the first neorealists hoped, then at least to move filmgoers to face the pressing economic, political, and human problems in their midst. From Rossellini's Open City (1945) to the Taviani brothers' Night of the Shooting Stars (1982). The author does close readings of seventeen films that tell the story of neorealism's evolving influence on Italian postwar cinematic expression.


Other films discussed are De Sica's Bicycle Thief and Umberto D. De Santis's Bitter Rice, Comencini's Bread, Love, and Fantasy, Fellini's La strada, Visconti's Senso, Antonioni's Red Desert, Olmi's Il Posto, Germi's Seduced and Abandoned, Pasolini's Teorema, Petri's Investigation of a Citizen above Suspicion, Bertolucci's The Conformist, Rosi's Christ Stopped at Eboli, and Wertmuller's Love and Anarchy, Scola's We All Loved Each Other So Much provides the occasion for the author's own retrospective consideration of how Italian cinema has fulfilled, or disappointed, the promise of neorealism.

 

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Contents

The Founding
33
Casting Shadows on the Visionary City
54
A Neorealist Hybrid
76
Dark Victory for Neorealism
96
Transitions
119
Consumable Realism
121
Transcending Neorealism
144
The Risorgimento According to Gramsci
164
The halfway revolution
245
Power as Pathology
263
Fascism and War Reconsidered
283
A Morals Charge
285
The High Price of Commitment
313
A Tale of Two Italies
339
Ambivalent Tribute to Neorealism
360
An Epilogue
391

Abstraction as the Guiding Idea
188
Return to Social Commentary
209
Discrediting the economic miracle
211
Inside the Honor Code
228

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Page 13 - Chi osserva questo spettacolo non ha il diritto di giudicarlo; è già molto se riesce a trarsi un istante fuori del campo della lotta per studiarla senza passione, e rendere la scena nettamente, coi colori adatti, tale da dare la rappresentazione della realtà coni' è stata, o come avrebbe dovuto essere do . lV, Milano, 19 gennaio iSSi.
Page 8 - En un mot, nous devons opérer sur les caractères, sur les passions, sur les faits humains et sociaux, comme le chimiste et le physicien opèrent sur les corps bruts, comme le physiolologiste opère sur les corps vivants.
Page 22 - The rules governing neorealist practice would include location shooting, lengthy takes, unobtrusive editing, natural lighting, a predominance of medium and long shots, respect for the continuity of time and space, use of contemporary, true-to-life subjects, an uncontrived, open-ended plot, working-class protagonists, a non-professional cast, dialogue in the vernacular, active viewer involvement, and implied social criticism" (Marcus, Italian Cinema, 22).

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