Italian Neorealist Cinema

Italian Neorealist Cinema

Torunn Haaland
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3366/j.ctt3fgsn5
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  • Book Info
    Italian Neorealist Cinema
    Book Description:

    How has Italian neorealist cinema changed the boundaries of cinematic narration and representation? In this new study, Torunn Haaland argues that neorealism was a cultural moment based on individual optiques. She accounts for the tradition’s coherence in terms of its moral commitment to creating critical viewing experiences around underrepresented realities and marginalised people. By examining both acclaimed masterpieces and lesser known works, parallels are drawn to realist theories and to past and present cinematic traditions. The ways in which successive generations of directors have readopted, negotiated and broken with the themes and aesthetics of neorealist film are discussed and evaluated, along with neorealist tendencies in other arts, such as literature.An engaging and informative read for students and scholars in Italian Studies, Italian Neorealist Cinema presents a new approach to a key cinematic tradition, and so is essential reading for everyone working in the field of Film Studies.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-3613-6
    Subjects: Performing Arts, Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. LIST OF FIGURES
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. viii-xii)
    Torunn Haaland
  5. 1. A MOMENT AND A COUNTRY
    (pp. 1-32)

    What affinities there are between cinema, urban streets and history had been amply explored before Roberto Rossellini (1906–77) shot Rome, Open City (1945; Roma, città aperta), whose heroine is killed during a Nazi raid in the winter of 1944, a few months before the city is liberated. From the Lumière brothers’ pioneering views on work and quotidian moments in 1890s’ France, to the emergence of urban documentaries in 1920s’ Russian and German cinema and noir cities in 1940s’ Hollywood, the spatiotemporal capacities of the moving image to evoke the life that flows, privileging social milieu and collective events over...

  6. 2. REALISM AND NEOREALISM
    (pp. 33-61)

    What is it that makes Pina’s death look ‘real’? Is it the streets in which she falls, where bombed-out buildings and shabby apartments bear iconic testimony to civilian life and recent tragedies? Or the re-enacting of a historical conflict and our conviction that similar confrontations between occupier and occupied took place under similar circumstances? Could it be Pina’s instinctive reaction to suppression, the irreversible silencing of her declaration of love, and the sense we get of how it felt to be living in Rome during the German occupation? If this is the case, realism is not as much a question...

  7. 3. LITERARY NEOREALISM: NARRATION AND TESTIMONY
    (pp. 62-90)

    The present attempt to revisit neorealism six decades after apocalyptic intellectuals denounced its traitors and their reactionary opponents invoked its death is motivated by what this moment in Italian cultural history reveals, more generally, about the art of cinema and its socio-political ramifications. If the films devoted to war, resistance and the post-war crisis were long considered miraculously new and entirely disconnected from the country’s recent cultural history, this also reflected their capacity to turn the Italian cinema into, on the one hand

    an expressive power and a driving force capable of modifying all models and reference systems, cultural paradigms,...

  8. 4. ROSSELLINI’S CITIES OF WAR AND RESISTANCE
    (pp. 91-122)

    Deleuze’s view of neorealist film as having unprecedentedly visualised senses of time and of spatial disconnection echoes Rossellini’s own understanding of cinematic narration as a matter of ‘waiting: [. . .] it is waiting that makes live, it’s waiting that unleashes reality, the waiting that, after the preparation – gives liberation [. . .] Waiting is the force of every happening of our life, and so also for the cinema’. As a dramatic device, waiting involves tracing the characters’ movements and revealing the spaces in which they move, while suspending the dramatic moment that eventually strikes them, unexpectedly, irreversibly (Rossellini 1987b:...

  9. 5. WANDERING AMONG DE SICA’S URBANITES: SHOESHINERS, BICYCLE THIEVES, MIRACULOUS OUTCASTS AND A MAN WITH A DOG
    (pp. 123-145)

    The exclusive inspiration would be ‘the children,’ De Sica wrote in the 1945 article ‘Sciuscià, giò?’ (‘Shoeshine, Joe?’), delineating what was still merely a hypothetical film: ‘only them: they feel that the life they live is not the one they should live’ (1994a: 237). That the historical present called upon children as witnesses was even clearer in wake of the war than it had been in 1942 when I bambini ci guardano introduced the focus on defenceless subjects destined to define future collaborations between De Sica and Zavattini. Giuseppe and Pasquale share Pricò’s incommunicable solitude and traumatising encounter with the...

  10. 6. VISCONTI’S WORLD OF AESTHETICISM AND IDEOLOGY: BETWEEN TRADITION AND INVENTION, FROM COUNTRY TO CITY
    (pp. 146-168)

    A positive and, for the authorities, undesired effect of the ‘campaign against dirty linen’ was a wave of protest, loudly present in a range of media organs such as Cinema Nuovo which became a privileged forum for calls for a free cinema and accusations of paternalistic policies that many held responsible for the ‘crisis’ of neorealism (Aristarco 1980: 12). Andreotti’s infamous film laws were revised in the mid-1950s allegedly to liberalise regulations and censoring procedures, but Barbaro, whom the Under Secretary of Culture had eliminated from the Centro Sperimentale film institute for convictions that never disturbed Mussolini’s sleep, dismissed the...

  11. 7. FACES AND SPACES OF NEOREALISM: FROM DYSTOPIAN CITIES TO UTOPIAN COUNTRIES
    (pp. 169-192)

    Gramsci’s critique of intellectuals as being detached from the Italy’s ‘national-popular reality’ and of the literary tradition as ‘bookish’ and made for a few ‘selected souls’ resonated among critics who in the mid-1950s confronted the unpopularity of neorealist film (1996: 48–9). Ignoring that ‘divismo’ is a popular matter, this ‘avant-garde’, ‘anti-liberatory’ cinema had championed truthfulness, experimentation and ordinariness to promote ‘liberation in life’, excluding the epic grandeur, heroes, melodrama and catharsis that offer spectators ‘liberation in art’ (Renzi 1975b: 447–51). While the popular masses were far from alone in being alienated by the absence of illusions – Calvino later...

  12. 8. THE JOURNEY BEYOND NEOREALISM: STREETWALKERS, POLITICAL REBELS, ANTI-MAFIA RESISTERS, STOLEN CHILDREN AND UNWANTED CITIZENS
    (pp. 193-218)

    By the mid-1950s, war, Resistance black markets, shoeshiners, unemployment, and miserable living conditions had definitively lost their aura as the centre of cinematic narration. The fading of neorealism suited cold-war cultural policies perfectly, but it cannot be reduced either to a matter of resignation to censorship, spectaculars and commercialism, nor to a degradation of the public’s taste and a failure in most cases to reach the masses. All of these factors played their role, but no less determining were the socio-economic effects of Marshall Aid and of neo-liberalist policies and industrial modernisation – aspects of the post-war economy that transformed the...

  13. FILMOGRAPHY
    (pp. 219-221)
  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 222-232)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 233-236)