Neorealism And Postwar Film

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The economic instability and social unrest brought on by war can serve as creative fodder for those artists enduring its hostilities. For Italian filmmakers, the devastation of WWII was a catalyst that propelled the national cinema into groundbreaking narrative formulas and new aesthetics. Postwar film initiatives sought to reinvent Italian cinema and achieved such with the emergence of neo-realism. This nationwide cinematic movement audaciously aimed to authentically capture the effects of war on Italian society with an indiscriminating lens. This meant trading the conventions of Hollywood melodrama for a simplistic narrative grounded in humanity. The cinema of the “new reality” positioned itself as a social document confronting contemporary social issues by telling pedestrian stories set amongst the working class. Its realism was rooted in an unapologetic presentation of the war-torn Italian landscape using real people (nonprofessional actors). Starkly different from the popular plot-driven American-style features of the time, neorealist pictures presented stories with little-to-no plot and bleak endings that left conflicts unresolved. This era of film unfashionably abandoned the commercial appeal of Hollywood grandeur in an attempt to capture wartime austerity. Neorealism, in its purest form, aims to present narrative cinema in a radically “de-dramatized” form. The neorealist camera directs its gaze just as intently on scenes of high-tension action as it does on scenes

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