BSA206: Italian Neorealism

Italian Neorealism, a film movement beginning at the end of World War II, was an urgent response to the political turmoil and desperate economic conditions afflicting Italy at the time. [4]

Unlike other Italian films of the time, Italian Neorealism focused on the poor and working class people and featured unprofessional actors. “Neorealism was the expression of an entire moral or ethical philosophy, as well, and not simply just another new cinematic style.” [7]

Ideologically, the characteristics of Italian neorealism were:

  • a new democratic spirit, with emphasis on the value of ordinary people
  • a compassionate point of view and a refusal to make facile (easy) moral judgements
  • a preoccupation with Italy’s Fascist past and its aftermath of wartime devastation
  • a blending of Christian and Marxist humanism
  • an emphasis on emotions rather than abstract ideas

Stylistically, Italian Neorealism was:

  • an avoidance of neatly plotted stories in favor of loose, episodic structures that evolve organically
  • a documentary visual style
  • the use of actual locations – usually exteriors – rather than studio sites
  • the use of nonprofessional actors, even for principal roles
  • use of conversational speech, not literary dialogue
  • avoidance of artifice in editing, camerawork, and lighting in favor of a simple ‘styless’ style


Some of the most notable directors of this movement are as listed:

Roberto Rossellini

  • Best known for his trilogy of war films; Rome, Open City (1945), Paisan (1946), and Germany Year Zero (1948).
  • One of the creators of Neorealism [5]
  • Considered to be one of the most influential directors of all time [5]

Vittorio De Sica

  • Director of The Bicycle Thieves (1948)
  • The Bicycle Thieves has been “hailed around the world as one the greatest movies ever made,” [6]

Luchino Visconti 

  • Directed Ossessione (1943)
  • Ossessione (1943) not solely a Neorealism film, but foreshadowed the postwar Neorealist work [8]


From Rome, Open City (1945) [1]
From Rome, Open City (1945) [2]
From The Bicycle Thieves (1948) [3]
From The Bicycle Thieves (1948) [4]



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s