Global NeorealismThe Transnational History of a Film Style

Global NeorealismThe Transnational History of a Film Style

Saverio Giovacchini and Robert Sklar

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9781617031229

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Abstract

Intellectual, cultural, and film historians have long considered neorealism the founding block of post-World War II Italian cinema. Neorealism, the traditional story goes, was an Italian film style born in the second postwar period and aimed at recovering the reality of Italy after the sugarcoated moving images of Fascism. Lasting from 1945 to the early 1950s, it produced world-renowned masterpieces such as Roberto Rossellini’s Roma, città aperta (Rome, Open City, 1945) and Vittorio De Sica’s Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thieves, 1947). These films won some of the most prestigious film awards of the immediate postwar period. This collection brings together film scholars and cultural historians to complicate this nation-based approach to the history of neorealism. The traditional story notwithstanding, the meaning and the origins of the term are problematic. What does neorealism really mean, and how Italian is it? Italian filmmakers were wary of using the term and Rossellini preferred “realism.” Many filmmakers confessed to having greatly borrowed from other cinemas, including French, Soviet, and American. Divided into three sections, this book examines the history of this film style from the 1930s to the 1970s using a global and international perspective. The first section examines the origins of neorealism in the international debate about realist esthetics in the 1930s. The second section discusses how this debate about realism was “Italianized” and coalesced into Italian “neorealism,” and explores how critics and film distributors participated in coining the term. Finally, the third section looks at neorealism’s success outside of Italy.