Saturday, April 02, 2011

Neorealism Goes to the Movies in Post-WW II

Here's a few recommended movies made in Italy shortly after World War Two. They were filmed in the style called neorealism out of necessity. The film makers had almost no money or facilities, so they filmed on location, had no makeup, and used mostly nonprofessional actors.

Roma, citta aperta (DVD) Open city / was the first in Roberto Rossellini's war trilogy.

LinkCat:"The loyalties of an impoverished mother-to-be and a parish priest are tested by the German forces which occupy their homeland during World War II." Federico Fellini also worked on this film.

Criterion: "This was Roberto Rossellini’s revelation, a harrowing drama about the Nazi occupation of Rome and the brave few who struggled against it. Rome Open City is a shockingly authentic experience, conceived and directed amid the ruin of World War II."

Paisa (DVD) Paisan / was the second film in the series. Criterion: "Roberto Rossellini’s follow-up to his breakout Rome Open City was the ambitious, enormously moving Paisan, which consists of six episodes set during the liberation of Italy at the end of World War II, taking place across the country, from Sicily to the northern Po Valley."

Germania anno zero (DVD) Germany year zero / was the third film.

LinkCat: "The concluding chapter of Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy is the most devastating, a portrait of an obliterated Berlin seen through the eyes of a 12-year old boy. Living in a bombed-out apartment building with his sick father and two older siblings, young Edmund is mostly left to wander unsupervised, getting ensnared in the black market schemes of a group of teenagers and coming under the nefarious influence of a Nazi-sympathizing ex-teacher."

Finally, a later film (1962) also shot in the neorealist style and about the same era was Four Days of Naples (not available through LinkCat). It relates the harrowing, enthralling tale of the rebellion of the ordinary people of Naples in September 1944 against the declaration of martial law by German Col. walter Scholl. The German retreat on the fourth day coincided with the American arrival in Naples. The film is on IMDB, but not Netflix.

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