Italian Post-Neorealist Cinema

Italian Post-Neorealist Cinema

Luca Barattoni
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3366/j.ctt3fgt89
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  • Book Info
    Italian Post-Neorealist Cinema
    Book Description:

    Unlike countries like France, the Czech Republic or Brazil, Italy did not have a new wave properly understood as a movement. However, while new artistic schools were emerging in many other countries, Italy was undergoing its most dramatic social and economic transformations. Those violent changes, together with the perceived necessity of renewing the aesthetic heritage of Neorealism, sparked a drastic regeneration of the cinematic language and marked the most memorable period of Italian film history.Italian Post-Neorealist Cinema explores the ferments of Italian cinema from the mid-50s to the end of the 60s, situating its wealth in the context of other national cinemas emerging at the same time. Olmi, Pasolini, Antonioni, Fellini, Visconti, the Taviani Brothers, Cavani, Rosi, Ferreri and many others all made their debut or directed their most representative works during the period. The book brings to the surface the lines of experimentation and artistic renewal appearing after the exhaustion of Neorealism, mapping complex areas of interest such as the emergence of ethical concerns, the relationship between ideology and representation, and the role of Italian counter-culture.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-5073-6
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. LIST OF FIGURES
    (pp. viii-xii)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-6)

    The title of the famous pre-neorealist movie I bambini ci guardano (1943) established children as the most sensitive and defenseless community of the 1940s. In the neorealist years and during the reconstruction, children and orphans were portrayed as kernels of hope, young creatures on the better side of history, ready to build on their fathers’ sacrifices. In a morally charged reversal of roles, it is Ricci’s son Bruno who provides guidance at the end of Ladri di biciclette (1948), as well as the young crowd of lower-class children witnessing the execution of Don Pietro in Roma città aperta (1945) symbolically...

  6. 1. HISTORIC, ECONOMIC, AND CULTURAL BACKGROUND
    (pp. 7-47)

    Late Italian modernist cinema can be regarded as the failure of antagonism against standing values and institutions, a cynical and yet amusing journey into the inexorability of the status quo. In Lorenzo Cuccu’s words, this era of Italian cinema created ‘an updated version of the Subject of Modernity, characterized or obsessed by amour-propre and by a need of self-affirmation that makes him a little bit of a Prometheus and a little bit of a Narcissus.’¹ When the journey began, filmmakers, even in relatively prosperous and peaceful times, were concerned with the ephemerality of progress, the plethora of schizophrenic behaviors brought...

  7. 2. THE NEW WAVE PROPER/ITALIAN STYLE DEBATE AND THE EXPLOSION OF NATIONAL CINEMAS
    (pp. 48-111)

    The Italian film industry enjoyed unprecedented growth at the beginning of the 1960s, resulting in a sensational increase in production figures and a stunning rise in export and domestic revenues. This positive trend was accompanied by a considerable number of aspiring cineastes starting their careers with instant classics, a phenomenon about which Gian Piero Brunetta wrote: ‘There is no other country in the world where one can witness, both quantitatively and qualitatively, a similar blossoming of new talents in such a concentrated amount of time.’¹ Despite the high number of impressive opere prime, the new authors did not gel as...

  8. 3. THE AESTHETICS EMERGING AFTER THE WAR
    (pp. 112-150)

    The main organizing principles of Italy’s emerging national cinema are the determination to construct films as mental images, unlike previous, ‘classical’ treatments, and to exploit the medium for the investigation, if not the edification, of the national identity. The existential journey seems to be one of the recurring devices used by filmmakers to confirm a state of confusion – national, generational, ideological, ‘obsessively presenting tales of narcissistic introspection or of self-evident incapacity, for the ‘I’ to understand his self and the world.’¹ The wandering of Massimo Girotti in Ossessione bears the same destructive purposelessness of Marcello Mastroianni in La dolce vita,...

  9. 4. IDEOLOGICAL PERIMETERS: THE CATHOLIC–MARXIST PROTOCOL
    (pp. 151-171)

    Before looking at the films, just a few historical notes on the ideological debate will probably help illuminate why liberalist intellectuals like Piero Gobetti deemed so crucial the ‘individualist revolution of consciences’¹ if Italy wanted to develop economically, improve socially, and think ethically. The absence of political formations referring to Anglo-Saxon models of liberal democracy in terms of economic liberalism and concomitant advancement of individual freedom² perpetuated an ideological immobilism where the general tendency of delegating individual rights to other authorities such as the Church, parties, and unions thrived without adversaries. A Catholic– Marxist joint venture held the population – or...

  10. 5. NEGOTIATING MODERNITY: THE ETHICS OF DISORIENTATION AND ENTRENCHMENT
    (pp. 172-192)

    Neorealism’s ethical approach was about granting citizenship to the common man – his language, his habits, his struggles – making sure that ‘art’ was not disconnected from him or, more importantly, that art did not formulate his presence as scandalous or exotic. For the first time the average man is the subject of cinema and with the purported intention to represent authentically his milieu. However, while the focus on the Zavattinian disoccupato was original, one must question if the viewer was really privy to his nuances or simply to the filmmaker’s vision of this new subject. The ethical edification of the country...

  11. 6. REIMAGINING NATIONAL IDENTITY
    (pp. 193-221)

    Neorealism tried to empty the cinematic space of adoring crowds and fake symbols ransacked from a fictitious Roman and imperial past and remake it into a geographic space with real inhabitants (and the infamous ‘dumps’ that, Fellini once said, had become the commonplace of generic Neorealist cinema). Neorealism was also nation-building ‘by subtraction’ (and, as Noa Steimatsky writes, it was ‘restorative at that,’ setting aside ideological differences and promoting a meeting ground of appeasement) in the sense that the problematization of the raw facts, no matter how much misery and poverty were involved, still emphasized the demand for love and...

  12. 7. BEHAVIORAL CODES AND SEXUAL MORES
    (pp. 222-237)

    Through the entire arc of the 1950s, Raffaello Matarazzo – together with other filmmakers like Giorgio Walter Chili, Guido Brignone, Mario Costa – illustrated the Catholic essence of Italian femininity in a vast number of works. Titles like Catene (1949), Tormento (1950), L’angelo bianco (1955), I figli di nessuno (1952), Chi è senza peccato . . . (1952) and others can all be read through a Mulveyan canon of taming and reduction of the female to domestic captivity, diegetically resolving episodes of independence and conflict leading to marriage, passive home confinement, and powerless positions inscribed ‘in the patriarchal context of normative heterosexuality...

  13. CONCLUSION: THE MISSING ITALY AND ITS MISSING CINEMA TODAY
    (pp. 238-247)

    Italy seems more and more like a country that is scared, or simply uninterested to discover what it really is.¹ The difference between contemporary works and the films analyzed in this volume is first and foremost that at the time someone embarked on a project of reclaiming the country, offering to the audience – constructed as citizens interested in being informed and educated – his take on the state of the nation: It is unclear who in today’s Italy is invested with this task, and if the task is of any interest in the first place. The questions about Italy’s future that...

  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 248-257)
  15. FURTHER READING
    (pp. 258-268)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 269-292)