vii CONTENTS Translator’s Introduction 1 An Aesthetic of Reality: Cinematic Realism and the Italian School of the Liberation 1 6 La Terra Trema 41 Bicycle Thief. 4/6 am. “Bicycle Thieves” and “Killer of Sheep” are both neorealist films that portray real life at a certain place in time. Neither film is. Bicycle Thieves is often considered one of the masterpieces of Italian neorealism, and Bazin refers to De Sica often when defining cinematic.

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No, unhappily, it is not certain, for La Terra Trema runs counter, still, to some filmic prin- ciples with which Visconti will have in abzin films to deal somewhat more convincingly than he does here. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. Since the expressionist heresy came to an end, particularly after the arrival of sound, one may take it that the general trend of cinema has been to- ward realism.

Is the film purely a product of the Depression, or is it also making broader claims that transcend the historical era when the film was produced?

In short, although they use independent techniques, without the least possibility of a direct influence one on the other, and possessed of tempera- ments that could hardly be less compatible, Rossellini and Welles have, to all intents and purposes, the same basic aesthetic objective, the same aes- thetic concept of realism.

Just by his being there we felt that what we were searching for in current events, even the most trivial ones, the bits bazln pieces of news or of political argu- ments, the details of our day-to-day existence, all was to be found in that troubled pool that reflected the changing world of the twentieth century.

He had explained this in bicycke prophetic article in in the review Point, 39 What Is Cinema? If you add that the language used in the film is a dia- lectal Sicilian which, given the photographic style of the image, it is im- possible to subtitleand that not even Italians understand it, you can see that this is somewhat austere “entertainment” and faces no more than a restricted commercial future.

This fallacy is the basis bicyle Baztn’s phobia about montage.

And, by way of gen- eralizing about this aesthetic pessimism: If this is not, strictly speaking, the first time depth of focus has been used outside the studio, it is at least the first time it has been used as consciously and as systematically as it is here out of doors, in the rain and even in the dead of night, as thjef as indoors in the real-life settings of the fishermen’s homes.


The camera must be equally as ready to move as to remain still. By diametrically opposite technical routes each arrives at a scenario with roughly the same approach to reality — the depth of focus of Welles and the predisposition toward reality of Rossellini. Thus the cinema stands in contrast to poetry, painting, and theater, and comes ever closer to the novel.

While an accepted star is received everywhere as himself, the success of a film is apt to identify 24 An Bazim of Reality the ordinary actor with the role he plays in it. How do we interpret those shots in terms of gender?

Andre Bazin’s Neorealism in Bicycle Thieves and La Promesse | Carrie Darden

We would clearly be deluding ourselves if we pretended to reduce recent Italian production to certain common, easily definable characteris- tics applicable to all directors. Metteur en Scene 61 Umberto D: By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. How does the film present that basic information? This will alert our moderators to take action.

How the does the metaphor of the border relate to other dimensions of the film, bszin the narrative and the construction of character?

Roma Ciitd Aperta enriched the world’s screen with a performer of the first order, Anna Magnani the unforgettable pregnant young woman, Fab- rizzi the priest, Pagliero a member of the Resistance, and others whose performances rival m retrospect the most stirring of film characterizations in the past. No major cinematographic school between and the present Italian cinema can boast of the absence of actors, but from time to time a film outside the ordinary run will remind us of the advantage of not using them.

How are those devices related to the film camera? This dramatic role played by the marsh is due in great measure to deliberately intended quali- ties in the photography. The quality of the interior shots will in fact increasingly depend on a complex, delicate and cumbersome apparatus. The peasant, for example, was a well-known Madrid comic actor. This is by no means the first time in history of film that nonprofessional actors have been used, but never before except perhaps in “exotic” films, where the problem is somewhai specialized have the actors been so skillfully integrated with the most specifically aesthetic elements of the film.

We might find there, loo, Bazaine the painter and two distinguished men of the theater, Jacques Coppeau and Dullin, the author of an unusual autobiographical study of acting for both stage and screen. How does she see herself in the final sequence in front of the mirror? Montage would have shown all this in a series of cuts.


It would be a contradiction to take any great pains with or to touch up excessively the plastic quality of the style. The nerve endings that register color and intensity of light are not at all the same, the density of one being ordinarily in inverse ratio to that of the other. Sorry to have bothered you, the director might say; we really did think he would never find it, but since he has, all is well, good for him, the performance is over, you can turn up the lights.

The Bicycle Thieves: Film with profound influence

Although every scene in the film was re-created years later, The Battle of Algiers is renowned for its appearance of documentary realism and newsreel-like authenticity. It is not an exact image of the real. Animals that have no difRculty in making out the shape of their quarry in the dark are almost color blind.

The closed-in countryside has replaced the open city. Think about the acting style and more precisely the facial expressions of Claudia played by Monica Vitti.

But it is against repetition of the subject matter that one can reasonably protest, not against the repetition of the techniques, which could be used over and over indefinitely. The essential thing is that in this mimetic process there be no cheating on reality however the process of “imaging” is car- ried out. It could happen that tomorrow the priest in Roma Cittd A perta and the Communist former member of the Re- sistance might not get on so well. In the Florentine episode, a woman crosses the city while it is still occupied by a number of Germans and groups of Italian Fas- cists; she is on her way to meet her fiance, a leader of the Italian under- ground, accompanied by a man who likewise is looking for his wife and child.

It is the exact equivalent, under conditions imposed by the screen, of the inner feeling men experience who are living between the sky and the water and whose lives are at the mercy of an infinitesimal shift of angle in relation to the horizon. What matters is the creative surge, the special way in which the situations are brought to life.