A History of Italian Neo-Realist Film

In the early 1900s, Italian film production flourished, but after World War One, it was undermined by foreign films. Production further decreased through the 1920s, with only twelve films been made between 1927-28. However, the sparking of a revival began in the 1930s, depending mainly on escapist comedies and lavish musicals- critics sneerily referring to them as ‘white telephone’ movies after their use of the colourful device favoured by wealthy Italians of the time. Also included in this revival were films depicting Mussolini’s Italy and historical epics.

By the outbreak of World War Two, Italian film was completely controlled by the fascist government who churned out light entertainment in an attempt to distract the sufferings of the population as the Allies began to win the war. However, the roots of Italian neo-realist film began during the war, most notably with Luchino Visconti’s debut feature Ossessione (1943). After the fall of Mussolini, Rossellini and De Sica would bring world renown to neorealist. Rossellini had produced films that supported the fascist regime but his 1945 work, Roma Citta Aperta, shot secretly in Rome while the Germans were still pulling out, together with his Paisa (1946) and Germania, Anno Zero (1947) they formed a classic trilogy that depicted the horrific impact on humanity.

Both Rossellini and De Sica used real locations and non-professional actors to produce films that depicted the reality of living instead of constant dramatisation of the subject. However, the crowds didn’t buy it, they were surrounded with enough misery, the last thing they wanted was to go to the cinema to see more. However, these films were massively influential, it changed film’s sense of time and the nature of drama.

Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source Russell Shortt, http://www.exploringireland.nethttp://www.visitscotlandtours.com

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