TCF112/Italian Neorealism

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Overview of Italian Cinema Before Neorealism

  • 'Teens: "Golden Era"
    • Cabiria
    • WW I ended the Golden Era
  • '20s: costume dramas
  • '30s: Mussolini/fascism
    • Apolitical
    • "white telephone"
    • bourgeois melodrama

Neorealism

  • "neo" = "new"
  • Peaked after WW II (1945)
    • Luchino Visconti
    • Vittorio DeSica
    • Roberto Rossellini
  • 1930s Antecedents
    • Sole ("sun"), Alessandro Blassetti
    • 1930, social issues
  • 1943 "neorealism" coined
    • Umberto Barbaro
  • 1942 first true neorealist film: Ossessione ("obsession")
    • Directed by Luchino Visconti
    • James M. Cain, Postman Always Rings Twice
    • Style
      • Outside studio - on location
    • Content
      • Poverty/suffering in Po River Valley
  • Open City
    • Directed by Roberto Rossellini
      • Sep. '43 Italy broke w/Germany
      • Oct. '43 Italy declared war on Ger.
      • June '44 Rome liberated
      • Spring '45 Fighting Ends
      • Apr. '45 Mussolini executed
      • Sep. '45 Open City released
  • Bicycle Thieves (1948)
    • Directed by Vittorio DeSica
    • Probably the purest neorealist film
  • La Terra Trema (1948)
    • Directed by Luchino Visconti
  • Neorealist Characteristics
    • Content/subject Matter
      • Contemporary social issues
        • German occupation during WW II
        • Unusual wartime alliances
          • Marxists and Catholics
        • Poverty
        • Rampant inflation
        • Unemployment
    • Neorealist Narrative Structure
      • Cesare Zavattini (scriptwriter)
        • No "story," no "plot"
      • Different from Hollywood classical narrative
        • Loosely connected links in the narrative chain
    • Neorealist Style
      • Mise-en-scene
        • Location shooting
        • "non-studio"-style lighting
        • Non-professional actors
          • E.g., in The Bicycle Thief: Lamberto Maggiorani (steelworker) as Aldo and Enzo Staiola as his son
      • Cinematography
        • Black & White
        • Odds & ends of film reels
          • Grainy, poor quality
      • Editing
        • Rough, not smooth, not invisible editing
      • Sound
        • Inaccurately dubbed