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Italian neorealism (Italian: Neorealismo) is a style of film characterized by stories set amongst the poor and working class, filmed on location, frequently using nonprofessional actors. Italian neorealist films mostly contend with the difficult economical and moral conditions of post-World War II Italy, reflecting the changes in the Italian psyche and the conditions of everyday life: poverty and desperation. Neorealism is properly defined as a moment or a trend in Italian film, rather than an actual school or group of theoretically motivated and like-minded directors and scriptwriters. Its impact nevertheless has been enormous, not only on Italian film but also on cinema and ultimately on films all over the world. "The term 'neorealism' was first applied by the critic Antonio Pietrangeli to Luchino Visconti’s , and the style came to fruition in the mid-to-late forties in such films of Roberto Rossellini, Visconti, and Vittorio De Sica as , , , , and . These pictures reacted not only against the banality that had long been the dominant mode of Italian cinema, but also against prevailing socioeconomic conditions in Italy. With minimal resources, the neorealist filmmakers worked in real locations using local people as well as professional actors; they improvised their scripts, as need be, on site; and their films conveyed a powerful sense of the plight of ordinary individuals oppressed by political circumstances beyond their control. Thus Italian neorealism was the first postwar cinema to liberatefilmmaking from the artificial confines of the studio and, by extension, from the Hollywood-originated studio system. But neorealism was the expression of an entire moral or ethical philosophy, as well, and not simply just another new cinematic style".

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Many of the other pilgrims also appear to have real-life correspondences; J.

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Typically, "realism" involves careful description of everyday life, "warts and all," often the lives of middle and lower class characters in the case of socialist realism.

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"Some filmmakers sought to acquire a Neorealist look by shooting traditional romances and melodramas in regions that would supply picturesque local color. Other directors explored allegorical fantasy - such as in De Sica's (Miracle in Milan, 1951) and Rossellini's (The Machine to Kill Bad People, 1952) - or historical spectacle (such as Visconti's ). There also emerged rosy Neorealism, films that melded workingclass characters with 1930s-style populist comedy. Against this background, De Sica and Zavattini's , which depicted the lonely life of a retired man, could only strike officials as a dangerous throwback. The film begins with a scene of police breaking up a demonstration of old pensioners, and it ends with Umberto 's aborted suicide attempt". In a public letter to De Sica, Andreotti castigated him for his wretched service to his fatherland:

It is a theory or tendency in writing to depict events in human life in a matter-of-fact, straightforward manner.
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These masterpieces by Rossellini, De Sica, and Visconti are indisputably major works of art that capture the spirit of postwar Italian culture and remain original contributions to film language. But with the exception of Rome, Open City, they were relatively unpopular within Italy and achieved success primarily among intellectuals and foreign critics. "Back in 1942, when Vittorio Mussolini, the head of the film industry, saw Visconti's Ossessione, he stormed out of the theater shouting, "This is not Italy!" Most Neorealist films elicited a similar reaction from postwar officials. The portrait of a desolate, poverty-stricken country outraged politicians anxious to prove that Italy was on the road to democracy and prosperity. The Catholic Church condemned many films for their anticlericalism and their portrayal of sex and working-class life. Leftists attacked the films for their pessimism and lack of explicit political commitment". In particular, De Sica was criticized for "washing Italy’s dirty laundry in public" by Giulio Andreotti, a Christian Democratic politician who was later to become one of Italy’s most powerful prime ministers.

Realism: Realism, in the arts, the accurate, detailed, unembellished depiction of nature or of contemporary life.

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With the fall of Mussolini and the end of the war, international audiences were suddenly introduced to Italian films through a few great works by Rossellini, De Sica, and Luchino Visconti that appeared in less than a decade after 1945, such as Rossellini’s (Rome, Open City, 1945) and (Paisan, 1946); De Sica’s (Shoeshine, 1946), (The Bicycle Thieves, 1948), and ; and Visconti’s (The Earth Trembles, 1948). Italian neorealist films stressed social themes (the war, the resistance, poverty, unemployment); they seemed to reject traditional Hollywood dramatic and cinematic conventions; they often privileged on-location shooting rather than studio work, as well as the documentary photographic style favored by many directors under the former regime; and they frequently (but not always) employed nonprofessional actors in original ways. Film historians have unfortunately tended to speak of neo-realism as if it were an authentic movement with universally agreed-upon stylistic or thematic principles. While the controlling fiction of the best neorealist works was that they dealt with universal human problems, contemporary stories, and believable characters from everyday life, the best neorealist films never completely denied cinematic conventions, nor did they always totally reject Hollywood codes. The basis for the fundamental change in cinematic history marked by Italian neorealism was less an agreement on a single, unified cinematic style than a common aspiration to view Italy without preconceptions and to employ a more honest, ethical, but no less poetic, cinematic language in the process.

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These artists insisted that the real solution to the many and growing problems of urban American life, made clear by the Great Depression, was for the United States to return to its agrarian roots.