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Re: Italian Neo Realistic Films

Posted: April 1st, 2011, 4:27 pm
by charliechaplinfan
I've never seen Crown of Iron, I've heard about 1860, I'd love to see it. I hope you get hold of a copy of Crown of Iron, it sounds intriguing.

Re: Italian Neo Realistic Films

Posted: May 4th, 2011, 3:16 pm
by moira finnie
Bicycle Thieves (1948-Vittorio de Sica) is being broadcast on Saturday, May 7th on TCM's Essentials. For once, the movie probably does belong in that category. Does anyone else like this poetic film?

Re: Italian Neo Realistic Films

Posted: May 4th, 2011, 4:23 pm
by charliechaplinfan
I think Bicycle Thieves defies description, it firmly belongs in the Neo Realistic genre, feels like part documentary, part film. Of all film children and of all father/son relationships, it's the most simple, touching and at times heartbreaking. One of the easiest foreign films to understand and feel wrapped up in the story, a simple one of a father who has his bicycle stolen and without it can't work, he drags his son around Rome looking for it. I'm looking forward to the discussions.

Re: Italian Neo Realistic Films

Posted: October 14th, 2011, 6:12 am
by moira finnie
TCM harvests a few of the neo-realistic cinematic masterworks of a generation of Italian directors on Saturday, Oct. 15th, with the rarely broadcast Bitter Rice (Riso Amaro) included. All times shown are EDT.

More about these films can be seen here on TCM.

8:00 PM
Bicycle Thief, The (1948)
A working man's livelihood is threatened when someone steals his bicycle.
Dir: Vittorio De Sica Cast: Lamberto Maggiorani , Enzo Staiola , Lianella Carell .
BW-89 mins, TV-G,

10:00 PM
Riso Amaro (1949)
A runaway thief joins a group of women picking rice.
Dir: Giuseppe De Santis Cast: Silvana Mangano , Vittorio Gassman , Raf Vallone .
BW-109 mins, TV-14,

12:00 AM
La Strada (1954)
A traveling strongman buys a peasant girl to be his wife and co-star.
Dir: Federico Fellini Cast: Anthony Quinn , Giulietta Masina , Richard Basehart .
BW-108 mins, TV-PG,
2:00 AM

Rome, Open City (1946)
Towards the end of WWII, Italian underground workers stand up to the Nazis.
Dir: Roberto Rossellini Cast: Aldo Fabrizi , Anna Magnani , Marcello Pagliero .
BW-103 mins, TV-PG,

4:00 AM
Mamma Roma (1962)
A streetwalker tries to save her son from a life of crime.
Dir: Pier Paolo Pasolini Cast: Anna Magnani , Ettore Garofolo , Franco Citti .
BW-106 mins, TV-14, Letterbox Format

Re: Italian Neo Realistic Films

Posted: October 15th, 2011, 9:03 am
by MikeBSG
Thanks for posting this. I've been curious about "Bitter Rice" for years, and I've been so busy that I haven't even looked at my copy of "Now Playing" since october began.

I may not be able to watch the movie tonight, but thanks for the reminder.

Re: Italian Neo Realistic Films

Posted: November 8th, 2011, 8:19 am
by charliechaplinfan
This book made me have a little more understanding for the Italians in the time of the birth of Italian Neo Realism

Naples 44 by Norman Lewis, he worked for British Intelligence during the invasion of Italy in 1943/44, his story startts with the landing on the beaches at Salerno. It's one of the most compelling books that I've ever read and being a fan of Italian Neo Realistic movies it fits right into the theme and fleshes out some of the problems aside from the war that Italy faced.

Lewis gets posted to Naples, one of his first jobs is to investigate underground knocking, it's reported all over the city and the only explanation seems to be a German soldiers down in the catacombs, so 50 armed men go into the catacombs to search but the catacombs are so vast they have to give up leaving the men underground to perish.

He has to make contacts for intelligence reasons, a lot of these are professionals, Italy has an enormous amount of lawyers, accountants, surgeons, the pride the Italian families take in achieving the professional status for their sons is not balanced against how many actually find jobs, only 1 in 10 ever find employment the others becoming part of the gentile down and outs. One contact is a professional uncle from Rome, hired at funerals to wail over the hearse, he only accepts commisions in other parts of Naples as the Naplese never travel out of their district.

The Zona Di Camorra or Mafia zone is well established in these areas, helped by te American army who seemed to have employed Vito Genovese as an interpretor and either known or unbeknownst to the Army he is running a huge Mafia enterprise that controls most of the black market, yet no one is willing to dislodge him from this position. It's not told in this book but on wikipedia it does say that Genovese was brought to book eventually for his war time escapades.

Stories of how they try to cut down on the blackmarket, the small man who takes only a little to feed his family ends up gettingg three years, his family starve whilst the big guys get away with it. Young lads who jump on the back of Allied vans to pinch goods have their fingers severed by troops trying to protect their goods. Girls as young as 12 being offered as prostitutes for a loaf of bread to the soldiers, housewives sitting around the headquarters willing to sleep with anyone if they can get a little bread for their brood. Starvation everywhere, a typhus epidemic, then the eruption of Vesuvius, held back by Saint Gennaro, the protector of Naples, a contrast in the book, the faith of the populace in Saint Gennaro to protect them, twice a year a vial of blood is brought out and as long as the blood liquifies Naples will be OK for the next 6 months. Vesuvius is held back by prayers and splashes of holy water sent in the direction of the lava.

A funny aside, all the telephone cables in one village are cut to allow a religious procession to go through and the war falters as no one can get any communication through. Lots of political parties spring up, some supported by thousands, some by one or two all trying to get the Allies help. One wants a split and Southern Italy an Sicily to go back to farming the land rejecting all machinery, women to work in the field with their babies tied to their back if necessary ruled by one family. They regret getting rid of Mussolini the only man to deal with the mafia and get some kind of order into the country.

It's a fascinating, fast moving, diverse account of one man's experience in Italy, it says so much about the Italian suffering and the strength of character in front of all adversity, war, volcanos, the mafia, typhus, starvation, nothing keeps them down for long. The cradle of Neo Realism, it's so apparent why.

Re: Italian Neo Realistic Films

Posted: March 22nd, 2012, 5:19 pm
by MikeBSG
Yesterday, I watched "The Children are Watching Us" (1943) directed by Vittorio DeSica.

If this is not exactly neo-realism, it is an important precursor of neorealism. (There is a fever-dream sequence that I suppose disqualifies the film from pure neorealism.) I found myself really liking this film. It is about how a little boy (maybe 4 years old?) experiences the collapse of his parents' marriage. Extraordinary performance from the little boy, who is sympathetic without ever becoming pathetic. The film is very psychologically shrewd and exults in its realistic settings (the park, the beach, the railroad station).

The non-Hollywood-ness of the film is refreshing. While the mom is the "guilty" one in the end of the marriage, she is actually more sympathetic than the dad (who ends up a suicide.) If this had been Hollywood, the mom would have been a more obvious "bad" woman who would "Pay the price" for her actions.

Strongly recommended (from a guy who is usually indifferent to neorealism.)

Re: Italian Neo Realistic Films

Posted: March 23rd, 2012, 1:27 pm
by charliechaplinfan
I think Vittorio De Sica is such an interesting director and has such a wide ranging talents. Does De Sica act in this film? I've seen some of his earlier works as a matinee idol, light hearted works yet only a short step away were such important films as The Bicycle Thieves and Umberto D.

Re: Italian Neo Realistic Films

Posted: March 23rd, 2012, 3:40 pm
by MikeBSG
No, he did not act in "The Children Are Watching Us."

Re: Italian Neo Realistic Films

Posted: March 24th, 2012, 1:43 pm
by charliechaplinfan
It's still a film I would love to see, I like De Sica whichever side of the camera he's at.

Re: Italian Neo Realistic Films

Posted: September 4th, 2012, 7:09 pm
by kingrat
Spoilers ahead: EUROPA ’51 was an adventurous choice for the Ingrid Bergman tribute, and an interesting film. I’ve read that Rossellini wanted to consider what would happen to a modern-day Francis of Assisi; others have mentioned Simone Weil as a model for Ingrid’s character. Ingrid plays Irene, the wife of a wealthy businessman (Alexander Knox). They live an affluent life in post-war Rome, but their son is disturbed, perhaps because of the war, which he and his mother spent in England, and during a dinner party he apparently attempts suicide. This completely unhinges his mother, who withdraws more and more from her family and environment, and seeks for meaning in her life elsewhere. We may disagree on such interesting subjects as how sympathetic Irene is, whether her actions are saintly, what we finally think about the character, and whether we think we share Rossellini’s view of her. Perhaps this is the place to say that there is a dryness and an abstraction about Rossellini’s films which does not appeal to me (Godard and the later Bresson films like AU HASARD BALTHAZAR and TRIAL OF JOAN OF ARC affect me the same way), although there is much to admire in some of his work, as here. Rossellini is generally more interested in situations than in individual human beings, although there is sometimes tension between the two poles.

Irene treats her husband like dirt, not even bothering to feel contempt for him. She has indulged in a romantic friendship/flirtation with a Communist doctor friend; I was assuming they were lovers, but this evidently turns out to be incorrect. (I think Rossellini accurately portrays how some women demand a special relationship with a man they have no intention of sleeping with, but I won’t swear that is his intention.) He tries to convert her to communism, but she refuses because they would mean she will never see her son again in another life. She discovers that there are poor people in the world and even works in a factory for one day. This is well shot, but rather like a Real Housewife discovering that not everyone lives in a gated community. Which is an important discovery, to be sure, but could anyone who survived the Blitz in England be so unaware of poverty? I’ll try to take the director’s word for it. She pays for a poor child’s medicine, meets a happy unwed mother (Giulietta Masina, who adds some welcome energy to the film), and nurses a consumptive prostitute, all the while letting her husband wonder where she is.

When her husband does find her, he worries about her mental condition. A priest asks her if she wants to join a religious order, but no, she wants to do things on her own. The rejection of both Communism and organized religion marks a big change from ROME, OPEN CITY, where Rossellini tries to reconcile the two. Finally the director seems to endorse Irene’s actions completely, through dialogue and through the idealization of her by the poor people she has helped. This is a reversal of STROMBOLI, where the peasants are bitter enemies of the Ingrid Bergman character, and where the ending seems to imply that she should surrender to God and accept her fate in her marriage. I can’t help wondering if some of my lack of enthusiasm for Irene in EUROPA ’51 comes from a Protestant background which rejects the whole Catholic panoply of sainthood. Aren’t there people in every community who do more to help the poor than this woman does, without starving themselves and ignoring people who are concerned about them? As an artist, is Rossellini more ambivalent about his heroine than some of the dialogue at the end would imply? What do the rest of you think of this film?

Re: Italian Neo Realistic Films

Posted: September 5th, 2012, 7:06 am
by charliechaplinfan
I love Ingrid's films with Rossellini, she's often criticised for them but my feeling is that it's some of her best work. Europa 51 has an interesting message and isn't the easiest to stay with but I enjoyed it and enjoyed reading your write up. I tihnk my favourite Rossellini/Bergman movie is still Stromboli, it has a lot to do with the landscape which is haunting and the feeling of being trapped, I adore that movie.

Re: Italian Neo Realistic Films

Posted: September 5th, 2012, 7:18 am
by Mr. Arkadin
kingrat wrote:What do the rest of you think of this film?

Europa 51 is my personal favorite of the Bergman/Rossellini trilogy. I can't really speak on this film because I'm (slowly) working on a project that includes it. All I can say is that we have completely different viewpoints on this one.

Re: Italian Neo Realistic Films

Posted: September 5th, 2012, 12:02 pm
by kingrat
Mr. A, I'd love to read your extended thoughts on EUROPA '51, whenever they are ready. If only we could find a grant to help finance your writing. Alison, I also prefer STROMBOLI of the Rossellini films I've seen, but I haven't seen VIAGGIO IN ITALIA, which is obviously the one to see next. There was much unrest at the TCM website among some posters about the choice of films for Ingrid Bergman's day, but I was thrilled to have the two Rossellini films, the rare ELENA AND HER MEN, and AN AUTUMN SONATA among the mix.

Rossellini deliberately keeps his distance from Bergman's character in EUROPA '51 so that we won't weep too much for the mother who's lost her child, but it's possible that he puts so much distance that some of us may not sympathize enough with her. The balancing act is very tricky. Unlike De Sica or the early Fellini, Rossellini seems to begin with an ideological point he wants to make, or perhaps the germ of the story crystallizes early into an ideological shape.

EUROPA '51 is a most interesting film, whatever we may think of the heroine.

Re: Italian Neo Realistic Films

Posted: September 5th, 2012, 12:50 pm
by charliechaplinfan
I was sympathetic with Ingrid's character in Europa 51 although I didn't always understand the direction her mania was taking her until later on. I fall wholeheartedly for saints and sainthood, I was brought up Catholic, I love the history of some of our saints but mostly I like the idea that it's possible to renounce our worldly goods and make a difference with our actions, however small. Ingrid's character might have done more good using her position to fund raise and drive campaigns but it's not the same as experiencing firsthand and being one of God's poor. It's interesting how we can have different view points about the same film perhaps based partly on our upbringing.

Mr Ark, I hope you are able to get your project off the ground, I know we've spoken of Rossellini's work in the past and I enjoyed reading what you had to say then, I'm glad you've included another of his films too.