An Alternative to the Classical Form: Neorealism and Modernism

András Bálint Kovács

in Screening Modernism

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print January 2008 | ISBN: 9780226451633
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226451664 | DOI:
An Alternative to the Classical Form: Neorealism and Modernism

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If film noir can be regarded as a deviation from the classical narrative, Italian neorealism offered other elements for a real alternative to it. Italian neorealism was a complex cultural phenomenon in postwar Italy integrating literature, journalism, and cinema. One of neorealism's main contributions to modernism was its suppression of the hierarchy between the narrative background and the narrative foreground, which thereby loosened up the narrative structure. There are two essential traits of neorealism that make it an antecedent to, rather than a part of, modernism. One is its fundamental social, sometimes clearly political, commitment; modernism instead focuses on abstract, universalistic concerns. The other trait is neorealism's total lack of subjectivity and reflexivity, both of which belong to modernism's major aesthetic strategies. This chapter, which examines neorealism and modernism in modern cinema, looks at modernism in Michelangelo Antonioni's Story of a Love Affair (1950) as well as neorealism in Roberto Rossellini's films.

Keywords: neorealism; modernism; film noir; literature; journalism; modern cinema; Michelangelo Antonioni; Love Affair; Roberto Rossellini; Italy

Chapter.  8097 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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