Back for Good: the Return Home in Post-War Italian Melodrama

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paper


Italian neorealism is conventionally read as the authoritative cinematic chronicle of Italy’s experience of World War II, and the Resistance, through canonical films such as Rossellini’s Roma città aperta (1945) and Paisà (1946). Despite recent critical work which tries to restore a fuller picture of the period, especially evaluating the role of melodrama, and a greater focus on the continuities between pre-and post-war Italian cinema, a certain orthodoxy still remains, by which neorealism is, in Pasolini’s words, a product of the Resistance, and Italy’s struggle for reconstruction and its inability to deal with the traumas of the past are best seen through the lens of neorealism.
However, the traumas of Fascism, war, occupation, and Resistance were worked through by Italian cinema after the war in a range of genres and modes, principally melodrama; this paper argues that viewing this period of Italian cinema solely through the lens of neorealism has obscured the importance of the affective charge of melodrama in constituting an alternative ethics of representation in the late 1940s in Italy. Often through the figure of the reduce (drawing on RBG), through the use of the love triangle and the idea of a return to domestic disruption, the paper examines how this domestic or romantic disruption stands in for what cannot be narrated, which is the ideological chaos of the Fascist and post-Fascist period.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 25 Nov 2015
EventCINEMA & HISTORY Time, memory, identity in the images of the new millennium - University of Roma Tre, Rome, Italy
Duration: 26 Nov 201527 Nov 2015


ConferenceCINEMA & HISTORY Time, memory, identity in the images of the new millennium


  • melodrama
  • masculinity
  • Italian cinema


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