Neo-realist Collection

  |  Buy to Own: 25/09/2006
  |  475 min
Rated TBC by the BBFC


A collection of five key films from the Neo-Realist movement, which took place in 1940s and 50s Italy, inaugurating the use of lightweight 16mm cameras, a cast of non-professional actors and actual locations rather than studio sets. Roberto Rossellini's 1945 film 'Rome, Open City' is arguably the film that provided the Neo-Realist movement with its blueprint. Set in the last days of the Nazi occupation of Italy, it follows the story of a priest who is also a resistance leader. He flees the Gestapo, hides out with a pregnant girl and is eventually caught and executed. Vittorio De Sica's film 'The Bicycle Thieves' (1948) won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. It tells the story of Antonio, a working-class Italian, living just above the poverty line. When he finally lands a job as a bill-sticker, his happiness is short-lived as his bicycle, essential for the promised job, is stolen. With his small son Bruno he tramps the city in a desperate search for the precious bicycle. 'Miracle in Milan' (1951), De Sica's follow-up to 'Bicycle Thieves', won the Best Film Award at Cannes in 1951. Its fairy tale-like story concerns the plight of the poor in post-WWII Italy. A group of down-and-outs are threatened with eviction by developers but manage to escape their plight after angelic intervention, thanks to a magic dove given to young orphan Toto by a fairy, which enables Toto to grant the beggars their wishes. 'Umberto D' (1952) is another hugely revered film by Vittorio De Sica, which was for years banned in Italy and labelled as subversive and negative to the country. It is a portrait of an old man, living out his last days alone and abandoned by a post-war Italian society. Non-professional Carlo Battisti plays Umberto Domenico Ferrari, a retired civil servant with no friends, family or prospects to speak of, only his dog Flike for company. Umberto lives only on his meagre pension and in dire surroundings with a grasping landlady. He has fallen behind on his rent and, after many indignities, finally reaches a point where suicide seems like the only answer. However, he puts these thoughts aside when he realises that Flike would be left to the streets if he was not there. 'I Vitelloni' (1953) is Federico Fellini's semi-autobiographical story of a group of friends - I Vitelloni (the young calves) - who have grown up together in the town of Rimini. Fausto, Moraldo, Alberto, Leopaldo and Ricardo spend their days in bars and cafes, dreaming of adventure, discussing women and sponging off their parents. Only Moraldo (Fellini's alter-ego, who becomes Marcello in 'La Dolca Vita') manages to escape the small-town existence and go to Rome.