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. Realism in European Cinema Italian Neorealism French New Wave British Social Realism.

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Presentation on theme: ". Realism in European Cinema Italian Neorealism French New Wave British Social Realism."— Presentation transcript:

1 . Realism in European Cinema Italian Neorealism French New Wave British Social Realism

2 . “European cinema’s defining aesthetic is realism. [It] has pre-cinematic origins in the nineteenth century European realist novel and in pre- twentieth century Western visual arts…as progressive attempts to represent a concrete ‘reality.’ The ideology of ‘realism’ is one of the means by which European cinema has traditionally sought to differentiate itself from Hollywood.” --Shohini Chaudhuri, Contemporary World Cinema

3 . Cinema Verite A French word that literally means "true cinema" or "cinema truth"; a method or style of documentary movie-making with long takes, no narration and little or no directorial or editing control exerted over the finished product; usually made without actors, and often with a minimum of film equipment, a small film crew (camera and sound), impromptu interview techniques, and a hand-held camera and portable sound equipment; sometimes used to loosely refer to a documentary-style film or minimalist cinema; popularized in the 1950s French New Wave movement; now widely used (often inappropriately) to refer to the popular, artsy trend of using hand-held camera techniques; also termed free cinema (UK) or direct cinema (UK). Source:

4 . John Grierson (1889-1972) MODERN DOCUMENTARY REALISM n Father of the documentary film n Film as an effective means of communications between individual and the state n Purpose is to create social unity and encourage reform

5 . John Grierson (1889-1972) MODERN DOCUMENTARY REALISM n Focused on poverty, hunger, unemployment, and other social problems n Intuitive/experiential films can enable people to understand social issues better than rational, cognitive analysis n Use of realistic and naturalistic images to signify abstract realities n Launched British Documentary Movement (1940s--100 plus films)Documentary Movement

6 . Social Realism in Crime Films Opening scene

7 . The Origins of Realism (It’s a European thing)

8 . History of European Art n Rooted in the “classics” and Scripture (metanarratives) n Formal and stylized n “High art” n Modernist, rational view based upon the principles of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment n Depictions of the ideal n God at the center

9 . The Modernist View  God, reason and progress  Twin pillars of the Judeo-Christian tradition and Greek-Roman culture  There was a center to the universe.  Progress is based upon knowledge, and man is capable of discerning objective absolute truths  Modernism is linked to capitalism— progressive economic administration of world  Modernization of 3rd world countries (imposition of modern Western values)

10 . Liberal Humanism: View of Literature & Art n Good literature is of timeless significance. n The text will reveal constants, universal truths, about human nature, because human nature itself is constant and unchanging. n Good literature is honest and sincere. n Art is to be respected, and belongs on a pedestal. n There are accepted traditional standards for different art forms & genres that should be obeyed and respected.

11 . Late 1800s n Industrialization of Europe n Rise of naturalism and realism in the arts n Questioning of tradition values n Focus of art shifts from “kings and rulers” to the common man n Themes of alienation, oppression, dehumanization, poverty n Birth of existentialism

12 . Early 1900s n World Wars I & II n Marxist challenge to capitalism n Oppression of workers and lower class n Imperialism and colonialism n Questioning of traditional worldviews in the arts and science (Darwin, Marx, Freud and Einstein)

13 . A Questioning of Modernity “ Things fall apart, The centre cannot hold, Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” --Yeats, “The Second Coming”

14 . Realism & Naturalism n Naturalism: The idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world. n Influenced by Darwinism n Focus on common people n Victims of industrialized society n Abandonment of artificial literary conventions n Loss of decorum (sexuality) n Pessimism

15 . Italian Neorealism

16 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s) HISTORICAL-POLITICAL BACKGROUND n Overthrow of Mussolini’s fascist regime n Monarchy abolished in June of 1946 n Battle for power: - Italian Communist Party (PCI) - Italian Socialist Party (PSI) - Christian Democratic Party (DC) n Divided country: - North – Republicans - South – Monarchists (migration north)

17 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s) HISTORICAL-POLITICAL BACKGROUND n Christian Democrats won 1946 general election n Italian Communist & Italian Socialist parties united in 1948 to form Popular Democratic Front (FDP) n Europe & US feared Italy would become Communist n US National Security Council & CIA launched propaganda campaign n 10 million letters from Italian Americans

18 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s) HISTORICAL-POLITICAL BACKGROUND n Christian Democrats won 1948 general election n Strong support in rural areas by Vatican n Communists still had supporters in Northern industrial areas (working class) n “Miracolo economico” of the 1950s: extraordinary economic reforms n US/European aid sped recovery n Socialist Party continued to play role in Italian politics

19 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s) HISTORICAL ZEITGEIST n Economy in shambles; high unemployment (25%) n Thousands of orphaned children n Emergence of Socialist and Communist parties n Terrorism and extremism n Corruption n “Extremely distrustful and fatigued public”

20 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s) ITALIAN FILM INDUSTRY n 1937-1945: Fascists controlled cinema (founded Cinecitta--largest studio in Europe) n Government-funded film school n “White telephone films”—American-style, escapist romantic comedies n Propaganda films n Mussolini issued imperial edicts commenting on aspects of Italian life he did and did not like

21 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s) ITALIAN FILM INDUSTRY n After WWII, Socialists and Communists in government tolerated Neorealism’s left-wing ideology (former resistance movement) n Cost of studio production, film, lighting, etc. became prohibitive n Reflected desire for social reform

22 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s) n Response to artificiality of cinema of the Fascist period (white telephone films) n Influenced by French and American literary naturalism (e.g., Dreiser, Zola) n Impact of urban/industrial environment n Experiences of poor and socially marginalized n “Slice of life”; things and facts in time and place (versimo) n Ambivalence of everyday experience n Some took strong Marxist stance, with a hopeful, humanistic dimension

23 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s) n Infused by a “democratic spirit” n Focus on ‘the value of ordinary people” n Compassionate point-of-view n Refusal to make moral judgments on behavior of common people as they deal with life’s struggles n Often anti-authority (bureaucracy of the church, government, politics) n “The tawdry, the ordinary, the insignificant”

24 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s) CINEMATIC CHARACTERISTICS n Environment as important as actors n Sense of actuality and immediacy n On-location shooting n Natural light n Long takes and pans n Medium and long shots n Tracking shots n Negative space

25 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s) CINEMATIC CHARACTERISTICS n Rough, unpolished look n Unknown, non-professional actors n Ordinary events, ordinary people n Representative of a class of people, not individual heroes n Loose, unresolved plots n Conversational speech, not literary dialogue n Post-production dubbing

26 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s) CESARE ZAVATTINI: “Some Ideas on the Cinema” (1953) 1.Portray real or everyday people, using nonprofessional actors in real settings 2.Examine socially significant themes 3.Promote the “organic” development of situations--the “real flow of life”--in which complications are rarely resolved

27 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s) CESARE ZAVATTINI: n “Identification with the common man in the crowd.” n “Take dialogue and actors from the street.” n “Reality in American films is unnaturally filtered.”

28 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s) CESARE ZAVATTINI: The ideal film: “Ninety minutes of the life of a man to whom nothing happens.”

29 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s) CESARE ZAVATTINI: n “The world goes on getting worse because we are not truly aware of reality.” n The job of the director is to “observe reality, and not extract fictions from it.” n “The frequent habit of identifying oneself with fictional characters will become very dangerous.”

30 . Italian Neorealism  DE SICA:  “Film makers, when they depict human social problems, instinctively seek the causes and effects of the disequilibrium in human relationships. They are led to conclusions, a sort of commentary in images, which are more or less partisan. There is none of this in my work.”

31 . Italian Neorealism  DE SICA:  “My films are a struggle against the absence of human solidarity...against the indifference of society towards suffering. They are a word in favor of the poor and unhappy."

32 . The Bicycle Thief n Awarded honorary Academy Award in 1949 (US trailer) (US trailer) n Inaugural issue of Sight and Sound (BFI journal, now on Web) called it “the greatest movie ever made” n Sergio Leone was an assistant director Fistful of Dollars Good, Bad and Ugly Once Upon A Time in America

33 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s) n Roberto Rossellini n Luchino Visconti n Guisippe DeSantis n Giovanni Verga n Vittorio De Sica n Federico Fellini n Michelangelo Antonioni n Bernardo Bertolucci n Francesco Rosi

34 . Italian Neorealism

35 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s) The pregnancy caused a huge scandal in the United States. It even led to her being denounced on the floor of the U.S. Senate by a Democratic senator, who referred to her as "a horrible example of womanhood and a powerful influence for evil." In addition, there was a floor vote, which resulted in her being made persona non grata.

36 . Italian Neorealism (1944-50s)

37 .

38 . End of Italian Neorealism n Criticized for negative depiction of Italy n Lack of positive heroes n Negative displays of human flesh n Catholic Church: “forbidden for believers” n Leaders disliked desolate images portrayed by neorealism n Giulio Andreotti, vice-minister in the De Gasperi cabinet: “Dirty laundry that shouldn't be washed and hung to dry in the open” n Leftists: Do not go far enough in suggesting social reforms

39 . End of Italian Neorealism n Leftist parties defeated at the polls n Massive US aid speeded recovery n Democracy took root n Personal income surpassed pre-War levels n Italians liked American cinema & optimism n Only 10% of the 800 films made in Italy between 1945 and 1953 were Neorealist

40 . End of Italian Neorealism n New focus on “the inner man”: F Moral and spiritual decline F Alienation F Psychology of relationships n BUT the movement did influence the French New Wave, Hollywood and TV— even today F On the Waterfront (1954) On the Waterfront F Rebel Without a Cause (1955) Rebel Without a Cause F Mean Streets (1973) Mean Streets

41 . Neorealism Today Influence of Italian Neorealism n French New Wave n British Social Realism n Scorcese: New York street life n Mike Leigh & Ken Loach: UK working class Common Topics n Immigrant experience in U.S. n Exposure of social injustices n Oppression of working class n Crime and corruption

42 . Neorealism & Marxist Tradition Film as a medium for social reform n Expose the shallowness of modern capitalistic society n How people exploited by the system n Real-life problems of the common man n Poverty, crime, social injustice common themes n Ideal society is classless n Social change requires mobilization of groups of workers, minorities, etc.

43 . Cinematic Realism & Marxism (1930-present) n Film as a reactionary medium n Expose the shallowness of modern capitalistic society n Real-life problems of the common man n Poverty, crime, social injustice common themes n Italian Neorealism n British Social Realism

44 . Andre Bazin & Italian Neorealism

45 . Andre Bazin (1918-1958) n Liked films that focused on everyday psychological experience F Italian neorealism (The Bicyle Thief) n Disliked modernist, expressionistic n Disliked films that imposed a political ideology on the viewer n Long takes, of surrounding environment n Impact of environment on people (French determinism)

46 . Siefried Kracauer (1889-1966) CINEMATIC REALISM : Philosophy n Critic of “modernity” (Frankfurt School) n Human condition characterized by alienation n Mass culture/society manipulates individuals n Materialistic values have replaced religion, metaphysical, romantic convictions, resulting in disenchantment n People live distracted lives n Film as a “redemptive” experience that can show man damaged condition of modernity and help him transcend materialism

47 . Siefried Kracauer (1889-1966) CINEMATIC REALISM n Foreshadowed and predicted dehumanizing power of mass media n “Mass ornaments”--film, military parades and sporting events n “Real” world of the individual desubstantiated by spectacle and empty rituals n Film must “reengage” individual with nature and the Kantian real world

48 . Andre Bazin (1918-1958) n Views cinema as a “redemptive” art n The role of cinema is to help man in his search for truth and understanding in an ambiguous and uncertain world n Man can transcend alienation and modernity n Film can be a religious experience n “Love” and “state of grace”

49 . Andre Bazin (1918-1958) Bergson’s concept of “creative evolution” n Catholic phenomenologist n The liminal image n Close experiential scrutiny reveals deep structures/meanings behind phenomena n Under scrutiny of inquiry [artistic analysis] these deep structures are brought into the light n Cinema and photography are media that an artist can utilize to review the deeper meanings behind the phenomena of existence

50 . Andre Bazin (1918-1958) n “We know that under the image revealed there is another which is truer to reality and under this image still another and yet again still another under this last one, right down to the true image of reality, absolute, mysterious, which no one will ever see.” Michelangelo Antonioni

51 . Andre Bazin (1918-1958) n Film image “embalms” time & wrenches phenomena from the flux of life n Symbolic power of cinematic imagery combined with empirical density of cinematic realism n The spirit behind the “real” object n The “long hard gaze” n Disliked over-expressive, over-ornamental, or overuse of montage

52 . Andre Bazin (1918-1958) n “Montage...chops the world up into little fragments, and disturbs the natural unity in people and things.”

53 . Andre Bazin (1918-1958) n “German expressionism did violence to the image by ways of sets and lighting.”

54 . Andre Bazin (1918-1958) Depth of focus & long takes n Respect for the continuity of dramatic space and the flow of time n Composition in depth “Dramatic effects for which we had formerly relied on montage were created out of the movements of the actors within a fixed framework.” n Ambiguity of expression closer to reality; viewer must choose

55 . Andre Bazin (1918-1958) “The principle responsibility is to document the world before attempting to interpret or criticize it. For Bazin, this moral duty is ultimately a sacred one—the photographic media are, in effect, preordained to bear witness to the beauty of the cosmos.” Peter Matthews, Sight and Sound, August 1999

56 . Andre Bazin (1918-1958) “Bazin distrusted montage on the grounds that its dynamic juxtaposition of images hurtles the viewer along a predetermined path of attention, the aim being to construct a synthetic reality in support of a propagandist message.” Peter Matthews, Sight and Sound, August 1999

57 . Andre Bazin (1918-1958) “De Sica…humbly renounced the hubristic display of authorial personality and thus enabled the audience to intuit the numinous significance of people and things.” Peter Matthews, Sight and Sound, August 1999

58 . Andre Bazin (1918-1958) “At no other period in its history has cinema been so enslaved by escapist fantasy—and never have we been less certain of the status of the real. Now the digitization of the image threatens to cut the umbilical cord between photograph and referent on which Bazin founded his entire theory.” Peter Matthews, Sight and Sound, August 1999

59 . Andre Bazin (1918-1958) “At no other period in its history has cinema been so enslaved by escapist fantasy—and never have we been less certain of the status of the real. Now the digitization of the image threatens to cut the umbilical cord between photograph and referent on which Bazin founded his entire theory.” Peter Matthews, Sight and Sound, August 1999 n Kracauer: “Mass ornaments distracting society.” n Baudrillard: “Americans live in a state of hyperreality.”

60 . US All-Time Box Office 1.Avatar (2009)$760,505,847 2.Titanic (1997)$658,672,302 3.The Avengers (2012)$623,279,547 4.The Dark Knight (2008)$533,316,061 5.Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)$474,544,677 6.Star Wars (1977)$460,935,665 7.The Dark Knight Rises (2012)$448,130,642 8.Shrek 2 (2004)$436,471,036 9.E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)$434,949,459 10.Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)$423,032,628 11.The Lion King (1994)$422,783,777 12.The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)$420,021,917 13.Toy Story 3 (2010)$414,984,497 14.Iron Man 3 (2013)$408,992,272 15.The Hunger Games (2012)$407,999,255 16.Spider-Man (2002)$403,706,375 17.Jurassic Park (1993)$402,348,347 18.Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)$402,076,689 19.Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)$380,955,619 20.Finding Nemo (2003)$380,838,870 All-Time USA Box office

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