Italian Neo Realism

•Italian Neo-Realism (Italian: Neorealismo) is a style of film characterized by stories set amongst the poor and working class, filmed on location and frequently using nonprofessional actors. Italian neorealist films mostly contend with the difficult economical and moral conditions of post-World War II Italy, reflecting the changes in the Italian psyche and the conditions of everyday life: poverty and desperation. Notable directors of this movement include Vittorio De Sica,Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti , Cesare Zavattini.
•With the fall of Mussolini’s Fascist regime in 1943 and the end of World War II, international audiences were suddenly introduced to Italian films through a few note-worthy works by Roberto Rossellini (1906–1977), Vittorio De Sica (1902–1974), and Luchino Visconti (1906–1976). Italian directors, newly freed from Fascist censorship, were able to merge a desire for cinematic realism (a tendency already present during the Fascist period) with social, political, and economic themes that would never have been tolerated by the regime. Neorealist films often took a highly critical view of Italian society and focused attention upon glaring social problems, such as the effects of the Resistance and the war, postwar poverty, and chronic unemployment.
•The neorealist style was developed by a circle of film critics that revolved around the magazine Cinema, including Michelangelo Antonioni, Luchino Visconti, Gianni Puccini, Cesare Zavattini, Giuseppe De Santis and Pietro Ingrao. Largely prevented from writing about politics (the editor-in-chief of the magazine was none other than Vittorio Mussolini, son of Benito Mussolini), the critics attacked the telefono bianco (White Telephone) films that dominated the industry at the time.
• These films tended to be socially conservative, promoting family values, respect for authority, a rigid class hierarchy, and country life. The Neorealist filmmakers saw their gritty films as a reaction to the idealized Telefono Bianco style. They compared and contrasted the high-almighty gimmicks of set and studio production, with the devastated beauty of everyday, rigorous human life and suffering, and chose to work on location and with non-professional actors instead.

There are a number of traits that make Neo-Realism distinct.

•Neorealist films are generally filmed with nonprofessional actors (though, in a number of cases, well known actors were cast in leading roles, playing strongly against their normal character types in front of a background populated by local people rather than extras brought in for the film).
• They are shot almost exclusively on location, mostly in poor neighborhoods and in the countryside.
• The subject matter involves life among the impoverished and the working class. Realism is always emphasized, and performances are mostly constructed from scenes of people performing fairly mundane and quotidian activities, completely devoid of the self-consciousness that amateur acting usually entails. 
•Neo-Realism preferred location shooting rather than studio work, as well as the grainy kind of photography associated with documentary newsreels. While it is true that, for a while, the film studios were unavailable after the war, neorealist directors shunned them primarily because they wanted to show what was going on in the streets and piazzas of Italy immediately after the war. Contrary to the belief that explains on-location shooting by its supposed lower cost, such filming often cost much more than work in the more easily controlled studios; in the streets, it was never possible to predict lighting, weather, and the unforeseen occurrence of money-wasting disturbances.
•Perhaps the most original characteristic of the new Italian realism in film was the brilliant use of nonprofessional actors by Rossellini, De Sica, and Visconti, though many of the films accepted as neorealist depended upon excellent performances by seasoned professional actors.
•The period between 1945 and 1950 in the history of Italian cinema is dominated by the impact of Neo-Realism, which is properly defined as a moment or a trend in Italian film, rather than an actual school or group of theoretically motivated and like-minded directors and scriptwriters. Its impact nevertheless has been enormous, not only on Italian film but also on French New Wave cinema as well as the New Iranian cinema and ultimately on films all over the world, namely Satyajit Ray’s Pathar Panchali to Rahim Bahrini’s Man Push Cart.
Summary of Italian NeoRealism
•Characteristics of Italian NeoRealism?
Has a sharp contrast with montage, shows people and things as they commonly are, non-trained actors, shooting on location. More about ‘why’ a film should be made rather than ‘how’.
•What challenges were faced by Italian-Neorealist filmmakers?
scarcity of film, weak infrastructure for film production, general existential struggles in an atmosphere of destruction and war.
•What was Italian NeoRealism about?
NeoRealism, what kinds of films would reflect the world they knew at the time, explored why a film should be made, made films to depict truth of situations/people.
•Why did white telephone films and romantic comedies give way to Italian-Neo Realism?
Italy, after WWII, had a 22% unemployment rate, Significant portion of the population had no work, no money, and were barely surviving, Zavattini – said ‘ we can’t make romantic comedies and white telephone films anymore, we have to make films that deal with the reality of Italy post-WWII, a 22% unemployment rate, and a destroyed rome.’
•What changes did Italian Neo-Realists make with conventional italian filmmaking?
No professional actors, they thought it was offensive to ask someone to pretend to be somewhere else shoot on location, real locations, get rid of elaborate scripts, loose idea for a story, and allowed people to play themselves in that situation.
•How did Italian neo-realism relate to documentary filmmaking?
Italian Neo Realism is a lot like documentary, and was made possible by the same technology (lightweight cameras) that were used to document WWII.

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