Cesare Zavattini A Thesis On Neorealism

Luchino Visconti’s (1942) was the first film to break the white-telephone mold.Film journalist Gianfranco Poggi describes Visconti’s courage to reflect the “true Italian reality” in the following way:“…the heat and the sounds and the dust of the flatland, the drabness, the disorder of the house interiors, the vulgar loudness of the local festivals and singing and contests, the tired pace of life in this setting, greed and the possessiveness of the people’s life in it: all these traits of the bare everyday reality [tore] apart the veil which had separated the camera’s eye from all those years of mystification and lies” (Poggi 14).

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They believed that by using town-locals would not only cut back on costs, but more importantly that a greater sense of truth would be arrived at in character performances.

Non-paid, unskilled actors reflected real, ordinary and relatable lives that Italians believed mirrored reality.

It, too, carries a dark, gritty, even pessimistic awareness that tries to push cinema into an objective, non-theatrical light.

A comparative study of Italian neorealism and its effect upon the filmic, narrative structure — naturalism — will provide what is, on balance, a similar type of cinematic storytelling experience that distinguishes itself by true-to-life plots, realistic social problems, visual authenticity, and unobtrusive camera and editing techniques.

This new cinema was a reactionary movement away from the implacable restrictions of Fascist cinema, as well as American imported, slap-happy, unreality films that failed to reflect Italian realities.

The movement was referred to as Italian neo-realism.Describing this time, Federico Fellini said that such “seductive films showed a paradise on earth,” a paradise that was completely unreal to Italian audiences (Ratner).In search for the Italian identity through cinema, filmmakers were urged by anti-fascist journalist Leo Longanesi to “go into the streets, into the barracks, into the train stations; only in this way can an Italian cinema be born” (Ratner).Pioneers like Rossellini, De Sica, and Visconti jumpstarted the neorealist movement and fought desperately throughout their careers to break away from prior theatrical, big-budgeted storytelling conventions.They highly criticized Italian society, avoided happy-endings, and glared social problems in the face without fear.These productions, often American imported, were lavishly decorated, “set in big hotels, tony nightclubs and ocean liners” and offered escapism from oppressive Fascist dictators (Ratner).Although these films were greater-than-life, well-polished, and preserved the status-quo, they failed to reflect issues that Italian audiences could relate with: issues like post-war poverty and chronic unemployment.Thus was the birth of the ‘new’ and ‘real’ cinema in Italy; what Felix A.Morlion called “a magic window that opens out onto the real” — coined later by critics as (Gallagher 88).Divorcing from fascist “mystification and lies” would be further advanced with the release of Roberto Rossellini’s that helped create the Italian identity.With little to no finances, Rossellini left the generic, studio-bound sets being used as refugee camps and entered the actual city itself to film (Nowell-Smith, 437).


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