Italian Neorealism

Italian Neorealism

21 Episodes

From the rubble of a devastated postwar Italy, an extraordinary artistic flowering sprang forth that soon took the world by storm. Led by figures such as Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica, and Luchino Visconti, a generation of filmmakers gave stirring expression to the concerns, struggles, and humanity of ordinary, working-class people with a blend of earthy naturalism and bittersweet lyricism. From early postwar landmarks like ROME OPEN CITY and BICYCLE THIEVES through later films like ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS and IL POSTO that built upon neorealism’s concerns while opening up new thematic and aesthetic territory, this overview showcases multiple masterpieces that forever changed the course of film history by revealing the drama and poetry inherent in everyday life.

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Italian Neorealism
  • Introducing Italian Neorealism

    Episode 1

  • The Children Are Watching Us

    Episode 2

    Directed by Vittorio De Sica • 1944 • Italy
    Starring Emilio Cigoli, Luciano De Ambrosis, Isa Pola

    In his first collaboration with renowned screenwriter and longtime partner Cesare Zavattini, Vittorio De Sica examines the cataclysmic consequences of adult folly on an innocent child. Heralding the...

  • Rome Open City

    Episode 3

    Directed by Roberto Rossellini • 1945 • Italy
    Starring Aldo Fabrizi, Anna Magnani, Marcello Pagliero

    This was Roberto Rossellini’s revelation, a harrowing drama about the Nazi occupation of Rome and the brave few who struggled against it. Though told with more melodramatic flair than the films t...

  • Paisan

    Episode 4

    Directed by Roberto Rossellini • 1946 • Italy
    Starring Carmela Sazio, Robert Van Loon, Dots M. Johnson

    Roberto Rossellini’s follow-up to his breakout ROME OPEN CITY was the ambitious, enormously moving PAISAN, which consists of six episodes set during the liberation of Italy at the end of World ...

  • The Bandit

    Episode 5

    Directed by Alberto Lattuada • 1946 • Italy
    Starring Anna Magnani, Amedeo Nazzari, Carla Del Poggio

    Neorealism meets noir in this shadowy crime drama featuring the great Anna Magnani as a dangerously alluring femme fatale. Returning home to Turin after World War II, former POW Ernesto (Amedeo Na...

  • Bicycle Thieves

    Episode 6

    Directed by Vittorio De Sica • 1948 • Italy
    Starring Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell

    Hailed around the world as one of the greatest movies ever made, the Academy Award-winning BICYCLE THIEVES, directed by Vittorio De Sica, defined an era in cinema. In poverty-stricken postwar ...

  • Germany Year Zero

    Episode 7

    Directed by Roberto Rossellini • 1948 • France, Italy, West Germany
    Starring Edmund Meschke, Ernst Pittschau, Ingetraud Hinze

    The concluding chapter of Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy is the most devastating, a portrait of an obliterated Berlin, seen through the eyes of a twelve-year-old boy. L...

  • Bitter Rice

    Episode 8

    Directed by Giuseppe De Santis • 1949 • Italy
    Starring Silvana Mangano, Vittorio Gassman, Doris Dowling

    During planting season in Northern Italy’s Po Valley, an earthy rice-field worker (Silvana Mangano) falls in with a small-time criminal (Vittorio Gassman) who is planning a daring heist of the...

  • The Mill on the Po

    Episode 9

    Directed by Alberto Lattuada • 1949 • Italy
    Starring Carla Del Poggio, Jacques Sernas, Mario Besesti

    Based on the celebrated novel by Riccardo Bacchelli and cowritten by Federico Fellini, this sprawling drama unfolds as a vivid sociopolitical fresco of the Po valley in the late nineteenth centur...

  • The Flowers of St. Francis

    Episode 10

    Directed by Roberto Rossellini • 1950 • Italy
    Starring Brother Nazario Gerardi, Brother Severino Pisacane, Esposito Bonaventura

    In a series of simple and joyous vignettes, director Roberto Rossellini and co-writer Federico Fellini lovingly convey the universal teachings of the People’s Saint: hu...

  • Stromboli

    Episode 11

    Directed by Roberto Rossellini • 1950 • Italy, United States
    Starring Ingrid Bergman, Mario Vitale

    The first collaboration between Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman is a devastating portrait of a woman’s existential crisis, set against the beautiful and forbidding backdrop of a volcanic isla...

  • Variety Lights

    Episode 12

    Directed by Federico Fellini and Alberto Lattuada • 1950 • Italy
    Starring Peppino De Filippo, Carla Del Poggio, Giulietta Masina

    Made in collaboration with Alberto Lattuada, Federico Fellini’s directorial debut unfolds amid the colorful backdrop of a traveling vaudeville troupe whose quixotic im...

  • Europa ’51

    Episode 13

    Directed by Roberto Rossellini • 1952 • Italy
    Starring Ingrid Bergman, Alexander Knox

    In the Italian-language version of this film, Ingrid Bergman plays a wealthy, self-absorbed Rome socialite racked by guilt over the shocking death of her young son. As a way of dealing with her grief and findin...

  • Umberto D.

    Episode 14

    Directed by Vittorio De Sica • 1952 • Italy
    Starring Carlo Battisti, Maria Pia Casilio

    This neorealist masterpiece by Vittorio De Sica follows an elderly pensioner as he strives to make ends meet during Italy’s postwar economic recovery. Alone except for his dog, Flike, Umberto struggles to main...

  • I vitelloni

    Episode 15

    Directed by Federico Fellini • 1953 • Italy

    Five young men linger in a postadolescent limbo, dreaming of adventure and escape from their small seacoast town. They while away their time spending the lira doled out by their indulgent families on drink, women, and nights at the local pool hall. Fed...

  • Journey to Italy

    Episode 16

    Directed by Roberto Rossellini • 1954 • Italy
    Starring Ingrid Bergman, George Sanders

    Among the most influential films of the postwar era, Roberto Rossellini’s JOURNEY TO ITALY (VIAGGIO IN ITALIA) charts the declining marriage of a couple from England (Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders) on a tri...

  • La strada

    Episode 17

    Directed by Federico Fellini • 1954 • Italy
    Starring Giulietta Masina, Anthony Quinn, Richard Basehart

    With this breakthrough film, Federico Fellini launched both himself and his wife and collaborator Giulietta Masina to international stardom, breaking with the neorealism of his early career in ...

  • Rocco and His Brothers

    Episode 18

    Directed by Luchino Visconti • 1960 • Italy
    Starring Alain Delon, Annie Girardot, Renato Salvatori

    Looking for opportunity, five brothers move north with their mother to Milan. There, Simone and Rocco find fame, in the boxing ring, and love, in the same woman. Jealousy mounts, blood is shed, and...

  • Girl in the Window

    Episode 19

    Directed by Luciano Emmer • 1961 • Italy, France
    Starring Lino Ventura, Magali Noël, Marina Vlady

    Luciano Emmer, one of the unsung figures of the neorealist movement, directs this slice-of-life immigrant’s tale cowritten by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Beginning with a visceral look at the harsh working...

  • Salvatore Giuliano

    Episode 20

    Directed by Francesco Rosi • 1962 • Italy

    July 5, 1950--Sicilian bandit Salvatore Giuliano's bullet-riddled corpse is found facedown in a courtyard in Castelvetrano, a handgun and rifle by his side. Local and international press descend upon the scene, hoping to crack open the true story behind ...

  • Il posto

    Episode 21

    Directed by Ermanno Olmi • 1961 • Italy
    Starring Sandro Panseri, Loredana Detto

    When young Domenico (Sandro Panseri) ventures from the small village of Meda to Milan in search of employment, he finds himself on the bottom rung of the bureaucratic ladder in a huge, faceless company. The prospects...