An Introduction to Italian Cinema: Neorealism and Its Legacy - IT312

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19 2019-20
(version 2)
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4 15 (7.5)







In the decade between 1943-1952, Italian cinema produced a series of films that departed dramatically from the traditions of mainstream cinema (both that of Hollywood and that produced under Fascism). These 'Neorealist' films were enormously influential around the world and had a lasting impact on film technique and style. This course will introduce students to the study of Italian cinema through an exploration of Neorealism – arguably the most significant 'movement' in Italian film history – and the work of several of the major Italian filmmakers involved in the movement (e.g. Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti).

In particular the course will consider:

- How to analyse a film, in terms of narrative, technique and style..
- The ways in which Neorealism constituted an alternative mode of practice to that of mainstream cinema (e.g. Hollywood) and the ways in which it rejected the tenets of the cinema of the Fascist era.
- The notion of realism in the cinema, in particular through the work of theorists such as André Bazin and Cesare Zavattini, and the ways in which this concept can be applied to the films studied.
- The social and political upheavals of wartime and post-war Italy and how these were reflected and negotiated in film.
- How and why Neorealism ended in the early 1950s and the ways in which its legacy is reflected in later Italian films.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

100% Coursework:

Essay 1 (1,500 words) – 40%
Essay 2 (1,500 words) – 40%
Presentation (20 minutes) – 20%

Preliminary reading

Indicative Reading List:

Bazin, A. (2011). André Bazin and Italian Neorealism. New York/London: Continuum.
Bondanella, P, (1989). Italian Cinema from Neorealism to the Present, London: Continuum.
Brunette, P. (1996). Roberto Rossellini. Berkeley/ Los Angeles/London: University of California Press.
Curle, H. and Snyder, S. (2000). Vittorio De Sica: Contemporary Perspectives. Toronto/Buffalo/London: University of Toronto Press.
Ginsborg, P, (1990). A History of Contemporary Italy. Society and Politics 1943 1988, London: Penguin.
Haaland, T. (2012). Italian Neorealist Cinema. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Marcus, M, (1986). Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism, Princeton: Princeton University Press
Nowell-Smith, G. (2003). Luchino Visconti. London: British Film Institute.
Shiel, M. (2006). Italian Neorealism: Rebuilding the Cinematic City. London: Wallflower.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Demonstrate knowledge of the core production of neorealism (by Rossellini, De Sica and Visconti), arguably the most influential style of Italian cinema, and the way it diverges from classical Hollywood and films of the Fascist era.

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the connection between neorealism and its social and historical context.

Demonstrate knowledge of the theoretical notions of realism in the cinema and apply these to the films studied on the course.

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the legacy of neorealism in a range of Italian films from Italy and around the world from the 1950s and beyond.

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