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.
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.
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.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).He showed the blown out, war-torn landscapes of Italian life using natural lighting, actors with little or no make-up, and depicted social problems such as interrogation, torture, corrupt military violence, and rabid-poverty.His was a cinema of “looking critically” at the problems that Italy had inflicted upon itself (Gallagher 91).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.To start, it will be helpful to prepare the grounds by first providing a basic overview of what Italian neorealism is, why the filmmakers of this movement felt compelled to react against the conventions of Fascist/Hollywood storytelling, and what this would mean for future filmmakers, both third-world and contemporary.Before the fall of Mussolini, the ‘white telephone’ era was in effect.To heighten the veracity of their films, the neorealists used town-locals as actors over professionally paid actors.This moved their cinematic style away from cleverly delivered lines to the unrefined nature of everyday language.