Here is a really excellent lecture by Professor David Thorburn on Italian Neo Realism as evident in The Bicycle Thieves (1948) De Sica.
He does a close analysis of the opening scene, from the moment Antonio takes the job until his initial meeting with Maria. He also elaborates later in the lecture on some of the key features of Italian Neo Realism and how it is responding to the social, political and cultural crisis in Italy at that time.
We are studying this film because of its importance and influence on later European Cinema including the French Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) and later British Social Realism.
It is also a good companion piece to City of God because Cinema Novo was heavily influenced by and grew out of Italian Neo Realism. Like City of God, it shows a city in crisis and the impact that has on the inhabitants. Just like City of God, the protagonists are trapped and disenfranchised in a city that has marginalised them (pushed them aside and forgotten about them). Here are some of the key contexts that are evident in the film, which we need to research.
Please complete your notes in your booklets.
The film is set in Italy just after World War II, a devastated society, with unemployment running at 25-30%!
It shows us a defeated country that is unsure about its future.
The film shows us people who were promised so much by the facist government, but badly lets down.
It explores a country and people that are fractured and defeated
The institutional powers (Government, Police & Church) are broken down and offer no help to the protagonists.
It is about a working class that is struggling to survive.
It’s about the degrading, humiliating and corrupting influence of living in such a society has on the people forced into the margins (the disenfranchised)
An brief overview of Italian Neo Realism:
Here is a great lecture given by MIT Professor David Thorburn, who covers:
The context of post WWII Italy
The features and ‘density’ of Italian Neo Realism (28.00 – 34.15)
The cinema of Fascist Italy that the film was reacting to
The topics which you are going to present on the Bicycle Thieves and the contexts surrounding it are:
Rita Heyworth & Hollywood glamour
American Film Noir movies of the 1930’s & 1940’s
Italian Cinema during the Mussolini Era
A confident self assured fascist Italy under Mussolini and a defeated Italy at the end of WWII
The cinematic movement called ‘Italian Neo Realism’
Who were the big directors and films of that movement?
What were they trying to say?
How did they seek to use cinematic technique to suit their political agenda?
OUR CONTEXT RESEARCH
Italy under Mussolini and defeated Italy at the end of WWII
Please prepare a presentation that can be embedded into this blog as a revision guide for the whole class. You should use Prezi, Google Slide, Voice Thread or another presentation tool, which allows you to use images from the film as well as add notes or a voice over.