Neorealism In Italian Cinema

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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…show more content…
At a time when audiences turned to film for escapist release, Italian filmmakers defiantly offered observational contemplations of contemporary social issues. Neorealism let go of Hollywood conventions by abandoning the plot-driven narrative, studio sets, and classically trained professional actors. Yet still, neorealism held on to the stylistic techniques of the Hollywood form. Umberto D, a true exercise in neorealist restraint, draws much of its emotional development from Hollywood-scale musical scores and camera movements. One of the film’s most lauded scenes observes a pregnant young maid as she begins her day’s work. The impressively scored and shot scene heavily dramatizes a seemingly inconsequential moment in time and makes no attempts to move the narrative forward. The scene is an exploration into the idle moments that occupy our daily existence. For its refusal to romanticize Italian life, neorealism struggled to find national commercial success, but internationally films like Umberto D were and still are critically
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