Re-envisioning the Nation: Film Neorealism and the Postwar Italian Condition
AbstractEmerging out of the ashes of Fascism, Italian Neorealist films were inexorably tied to the social, political, and economic reorganization of the nation in the immediate postwar years. Coupled with the advent of new cinematic techniques that characterized the genre (the use of non-actors, natural lighting, on-location shooting, and the absence of melodrama), the reassertion of local and regional realities in Neorealist films marked a sharp break from Fascist-era depictions of a national ideal. By injecting presentations of poverty and class conflict into the urban setting and deconstructing the rural idyll, Neorealism offered a new means of imagining national unity based on class consciousness and consent as opposed to coercion. The attempts to present the “social truths” of the postwar period revolved around the transformation of the iconic images central to Fascist constructions of the nation. Luchino Visconti’s La terra trema (1948) is discussed as emblematic of the shared moral and stylistic unity of the genre.
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