Quite often, Italian Neorealism is considered a phenomenon which exploded onto the cinema scene when the Fascist regime fell, giving Italian film makers the artistic freedoms which were denied to them for over 20 years. It is commonly regarded as a smooth break from the repressive Fascist era. Neorealism's prescription for cinematic realism, set forth by film scholars and critics, called for the use of non-professional actors, regional dialects, current subject matter, authentic locations, documentary aspects, and the use of the film as a social statement. In 1945, Roberto Rossellini was hailed "The Father of Neorealism" with his first international success "Rome, Open City" which was consistent with the neorealist prescription. His next two movies, "Paisan" and "Germany, Year Zero" likewise did the same. However, the similarities between Rossellini's realism and that defined by the mainstream end here.
First, Rossellini's interest in the portrayal of realism was deeply rooted within the Fascist cinematic era in which he was trained by truly Fascist film makers and government officials. Apparently there was not a smooth break between the Fascist and the Neorealist eras. Second, he vehemently rebelled against critics, scholars, political figures and other film makers who tried to set and force others to follow guidelines as to what elements were necessary to portray reality. The tension between these two sides, which ran particularly height in post-war period to the early 1950's, caused Rossellini's popularity with the mainstream audience and critics to plummet substantially. One writer even wrote, "To change one's profession in certain circumstances is, without doubt, the wisest thing one can do," suggesting that Rossellini get out of the film business (Films 98). Even though, with each consecutive film, the ticket sales steadily decreased, Rossellini continued to forge ahead in the development of his own personal portrayal of truth and realism, a movement which, though contrary to that of the mainstream, was important in shaping post-war cinema. Therefore, in order to show how his personal conception of truth and reality evolved within these high-tension years, it is essential to look at the evolution of these realistic aspects within his films from 1941 to 1953, apart from the interference of mainstream recommendations and criticisms.
Roberto Rossellini: Early Life and Experiences
Rossellini's Early Films
The Cinema Under Mussolini
The Fascist Trilogy (1941 - 1944)
The Fascist Trilogy: Realism in the Story Line
The Neorealist Trilogy (1945 - 1947)
Concept of Rossellini's Neorealist Trilogy: The Neorealist Prescription
Rossellini's Transitional Films
Rossellini's Transitional Films: A Step Toward A New Reality
The Trilogy of Solitude
The Trilogy of Solitude: A Look At Psychological Realism
The Evolution of the Concept of Reality in Rossellini's Works