This polemical article objects to the pervasive use of realism as a value or prescriptive term in the writing of Italian cinema history. It also offers a dissenting appraisal of the ‘institution’ of neorealism: the body of critical work and discourse that constructs neorealism as the ethical and aesthetic centre of Italian cinema. The discursive recourse to neorealism has become the essential authoritative gesture: to fail to refer to it is to risk seeming ignorant, philistine and most of all politically suspect. We contest this insidious common sense of Italian cinema studies, a common sense that is underpinned by a notion of auteurist ‘paternity’ as the default explanatory metaphor of Italian film history, and which leads to a dismissive tone in the discussion of genre films, not to mention a disdain for the audience for such films. We critique the idea of cinema as a ‘mirror’ of the nation found in some of the pre-eminent scholars of Italian cinema, and we finish by recommending a moratorium on the mention of neorealism for at least five years. What would a silence on realism allow us to reveal about other modes and genres?
|Translated title of the contribution||Against Realism: on 'a certain tendency' in Italian film studies|
|Pages (from-to)||107 - 119|
|Number of pages||13|
|Journal||Journal of Modern Italian Studies|
|Publication status||Published - Jan 2011|