Italian neorealism, a film movement pioneered in Italy is recognised by its use of non professional actors, being shot on location, and plots concerning the working class or the impoverished. Italian neorealist films dealt with difficulties faced everyday by the working class; the stories were prompted by the conditions left after the second world war, and they often had open ended narratives. Stylistically the films were loose, fluid, often documentary-like.
Neorealist pioneer, Cesare Zavattini, wished to eradicate the use of contrived plots and professional actors, and the critic Umberto Barbaro stated Neo-Realism will take care of what is lacking in current Italian cinema.
Mussolini came into power over Italy in 1922, he considered the film industry 'the strongest weapon' of the century, and intended to exploit it. However Italian neorealism presented itself as a political tool for third world audiences to fight against social problems of unemployment, poverty, famine and class conflicts.
Italian Neorealist films were fairly minimal in the sense that they kept close to reality for authenticity in that some senses the films could be considered documentaries. The city which was destroyed after the war served as an ideal backdrop for many neorealist films. The city served as its own misé en scene, and the directors shot in available light, employing real civilians as actors, and adding dubbed dialogue in during post production. Federico Fellini stated that Neorealism is 'Not about what you show, but how you show it. It’s simply a way of looking at the world without preconceptions or prejudices.
The movements style is similar to that of the Soviet montage movement, in that the directors opted to use amateur, if not unknown actors to retain authenticity. Within film movements influenced by italian neorealism, several directors have adopted the use of amateur actors, independent filmmaker Shane Meadows opted for mainly unknown actors in his film This Is England (2006) to ensure the diegesis retained the eras gritty realism and that a greater sense of truth would be achieved in the actors performances.
Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves (1948) was a more so than a tale of a father son bond, it was an important political movement film and captured the zeitgeist of Italy at the time. Throughout the plot, we are confronted with Antonio and Bruno's hardship. Shot on location, the film was a view of the lower class majority population, and how everyone suffered equally. In comparison Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, (1975) is more of a grossly over the top version of events, featuring crimes directly perpetrated by those ruling or in power, whereas in Bicycle Thieves the lower class resort to crime because those in power are oblivious. People of power in Bicycle Thieves, such as a police man mock the protagonist. This implies how the public were helpless against their government. On the other hand, within the...