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Italian Neorealism

Italian Neorealism: Rebuilding the Cinematic City

Series: Short Cuts
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 144
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  • Book Info
    Italian Neorealism
    Book Description:

    Italian Neorealism: Rebuilding the Cinematic Cityis a valuable introduction to one of the most influential of film movements. Exploring the roots and causes of neorealism, particularly the effects of the Second World War, as well as its politics and style, Mark Shiel examines the portrayal of the city and the legacy left by filmmakers such as Rossellini, De Sica, and Visconti. Films studied includeRome, Open City(1945),Paisan(1946),The Bicycle Thief(1948), andUmberto D.(1952).

    eISBN: 978-0-231-85029-2
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Mark Shiel
    (pp. 1-16)

    Few moments in the history of cinema have been as hotly debated in their day and by succeeding generations as the moment of Italian neorealism in Italy after World War Two. Most critics and historians agree that neorealism was a watershed in which realism emerged for a time as the dominant mode of Italian cinema, with decisive impacts on the ways in which films would be made and thought about in Italy and worldwide for generations. One of the most important ways of thinking about neorealism has been to see it as a moment of decisive transition in the tumultuous...

    (pp. 17-36)

    Italian neorealism has always been both an Italian and an international phenomenon and neorealist films and filmmakers regularly drew on both Italian and foreign influences. The neorealist filmmakers of the 1940s and 1950s were among the most well-schooled in film history, capitalising on the proliferation of popular film culture and of film education in Italy during the 1930s, and drawing upon a wide range of cinematic precedents. In respect of neorealism’s documentary-like preoccupation with the everyday life of a society, the Soviet montage school of the 1920s was not widely known but had a specialised influence, especially through the translation...

    (pp. 37-62)

    The destabilisation of positive cinematic images of fascist Italy intensified with Luchino Visconti’sOssessione, which began filming on 15 June 1942. Visconti (1906–1976) came from an aristocratic background, the son of the Duke of Modrone, and spent his young adulthood as a man of leisure traveling extensively in Europe. Visiting Paris regularly from 1932, he became acquainted with the city’s artistic and intellectual social circles and through a friendship with the designer Coco Chanel was introduced to the director Jean Renoir, gaining his first professional experience in cinema as assistant director on Renoir’sUne partie de campagne. The extended...

    (pp. 63-79)

    Generally speaking, the greatest spatial distinction which critics and historians of Italian cinema have focused on has been the relationship of social, political and economic inequality between the urban-industrial and modern north of Italy, above Rome, and the rural-agrarian and feudal south ormezzogiorno. After the war, the most influential analysis of the north/south division was provided by Antonio Gramsci, the Marxist political theorist and founding member of the Italian Communist Party, who had been imprisoned by the fascist regime from 1927 until his death in 1937, but whosePrison Notebooksbegan to be published in 1948. Gramsci formulated the...

    (pp. 80-95)

    Immediately after World War Two, the Italian left was in a strong position. The heroic struggle of its partisans had been key to the anti-fascist resistance and was held in high esteem. A large section of the people – especially the young, men, the urban working class and farm labourers in northern and central Italy – saw the Communists and Socialists as agents of progressive social change, a view reflected in the 1946 elections in which the combined vote of the PCI (18.9 per cent) and PSI (20.7 per cent) exceeded that of the DC (35.1 per cent) (see Sitney...

    (pp. 96-121)

    Michelangelo Antonioni came from a middle-class background in Ferrara and was educated at the University of Bologna before becoming a film critic for the Ferrara newspaperCorriere Padanoin 1935 and then, moving to Rome, for the journalCinemain 1939. In 1940 his reviews of the Venice Film Festival, of which Mussolini was a great supporter, revealed his disillusion with the commercialism and superficiality of the mainstream film industry (1940a and 1940b). Antonioni studied at the Centro Sperimentale, scripted Rossellini’sUn pilota ritornain 1941, and assisted Marcel Carné in the production of hisLes visiteurs du soirin...

    (pp. 122-127)

    By the end of the 1950s the Italian social, political and cultural landscape had changed substantially. The coming of television in 1956 caused a fall in cinema attendances from a record high of 819m in 1955 to 730m in 1958 and 683m in 1964, a decline which would continue into the 1980s (see Spinazzola 1985: 333). The so-called ‘economic miracle’ began in earnest around 1958 and continued with a period of unprecedented growth through the early 1960s. Industrial expansion and rising living standards fuelled a proliferation of consumer goods such as radios, cars, refrigerators and televisions and most ordinary Italians...

    (pp. 128-138)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 139-144)