>After German expressionism it would be interesting to hear what Screen-L >thinks are Italian Neorealist films. > >Carlo Celli Carlo: A hot potato here, as we say in Italian. Unless there is no (more) debate over the question that it is Visconti's *Ossessione* (1942) and not Rossellini's *Roma Cittą Aperta* (1945) that marks the beginning of Neorealism. But is it common knowledge? My critique of Neorealism as it has been read in terms of Bazin's theoretical formulations, Rossellini's War Trilogy (*Roma Cittą Aperta* *Paisą* and *Germania Anno Zero*) and De Sica's post war reconstruction films (*Sciuscią* *Ladri di Biciclette* and *Umberto D*) has to do with a number of issues. 1) The status of the image. The claim to a truthful recording of reality leads to an innocented reading that precipitates the viewer into a suspension of disbelief which prevents her from recognizing that what she sees onscreen is a representation of reality mediated by the cinematic apparatus and not reality itself. The film is not just "there" to convey universal meaning. Instead, it reflects the ideology of the filmmaker, who selected these particular images and not others. The issue of reality is thus predicated upon the cultural values that inform the individual's perception of reality and which are historically variable. Vittorio Mussolini declared, upon seeing Ossessione, that that was not Italy. 2) Moral vs. political. The individual emerging from the war is forgiven for her allegiance with Fascism. The primary concern of post war reconstruction is the collective effort to eliminate Fascism from the newly constituted society in the name of a new moral [Fascism is immoral] emerging from the suffering of the war. This goal is to be accomplished by the young generation [closing image of children in Roma]. The fight against Fascism depicted in Roma -- where all forces are united to fight a common enemy [the partisans &the priest] becomes problematic during the post war period. Question: what happens once Fascism is conquered? Once ideological differences will start surfacing? The same questions apply to Neorealism as a cinematic movement embodied in the 1940s work of Rossellini and De Sica. Founded upon a reaction to the cinema of the past, predicated upon a set of spontaneous rules, devoid of a theoretical basis, it cannot survive without a serious interrogation of its modes of production. The only film which follows the Neorealist aesthetics is Roma Citta Aperta, born out of the historical/ economic conditions of the war. Its style is made possible by the lack of facilities which directors have to work with in a country destroyed by the war: primitive equipment, improvised modes od production, technical poverty. Technical question: can Neorealism exist outside the historical premises where it was born? Ideological question: how are the hopes of Roma realized in the later films which address the post­war theme of reconstruction? Amen, Gloria Monti ______________________________ gloria monti lecturer & director of undergraduate studies film studies program, yale university 53 wall st., #116, new haven, CT 06510 voice mail: 203-432-0152 fax: 203-776-1928 e-mail: [log in to unmask] http://pantheon.cis.yale.edu/~godard/index.html "Ou est donc la verite? De face ou de profil?" Jean-Luc Godard ---- Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the University of Alabama.