film analysis discussion/ 2 complete paragraph


You do not need to respond to all the readings for a given class, as long as your comments reveal a
strong and in-depth reading of one of the texts. Commenting on two texts for a particular class is
considered one post.In approximately two paragraphs, cover some of the following:

What is the main or central argument?

How does the author make this argument? (Working through specific examples, and/or other
authors and their terms and concepts?)

What are the key terms, concepts, or distinctions used in this argument?

In what ways is/are the argument/s or particular claim/s surprising, counterintuitive, or perhaps
even problematic?

How might we see parallels to contemporary examples or issues?

In what ways might the author’s claims require a reexamination or response? film: Bicycle Thieves / Ladri di biciclette (Vittorio De Sica, Italy, 1948), 89 min. 2 complete paragraph (400-500 words)

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Zavattini,cesare. “A Thesis on Neo-Realism.,,
springtimein ltaly:A Readeron Neo-Realism,
by Davidoverby,6T-79. Hamden,cr: Archon
A T hesis ott N eo-Realism
4. A Thesis on Neo-Realism
by CesareZavattini
This essayis actually made up of three articles by Zavattini:
“Alt’wrc idee sul cinema”, Reuista del cinema italiano,
December. 1952:”Tesi sul neorealismo”, Emilia,2l November, I 953: ” l I neorealismo secondo me” , first delivered at the
Congressof Farma on Neo-Realism, December3,4,5, 1953,
and later printed in Riuista del cinema italiano, 3, March
I 954.
Zavattini has several basic ideas about neo-realism and the
c’inema (“which I will repeat until everyonelistens”). These
tum up again and again in his articles and in the various
interviews with him, often with very little modification in
either phrasing or illustrative examples. Thus the three articles named have been edited together here to avoid the repetition which would have resulted in printing all three. No
violence has been done to any o[ his ideas.This essayas it
now stands encompasses his ccntral ideas; his examples
impart the fiavour of the man himself.
There is no doubt that our first, and most superficial, reaction to
daily exisrenceis boredorn. Reality seemsdeprived of all interest as
Iong as we cannot succeed in surtnounting and overcoming our
rnoral and intellectual sloch. nt is, therefore,not surprising [hat the
cinema has aiways felt the “natural” and practically inevitable necessity of inserting a story into reality in order to make it thrilling and
spectacular.’It is evident [hat in this manner one could spontaneously escape frorn reality; it is as if nothing could be done to prevent the interferenceof the imagination.
The rnost important characteristicof neo-realisrn,i.e. its essential
innovarion, is, for me, the discovery that this need to usea story was
just an unconscious means of masking human defeat in the faceof
reality; imagination, in its own manner o[ [unctioning, rnerelysuperirnposesdeath schernesonto living events and situations.
Yer, in fact, we are norv aware that reality is extremely rich. We
simply had to.learn how to look at ir. The taik ilf the artist – the neo-
Sprtngtime in Italy
realist artist at least – does not consist in bringing the audience to
tearsand indignation by means o[ transference,but.,on the cont.rary,
i t c ons is t sin br in g i n g th e m to re fl e c t(a n d th en, i f you w i l l , ro sti r up
emotions and ihdignation) upon what they are doing and upon whar
others are doing; that is, to think about reality precisely as it is.
From a profound and unconscious lack of confidence in confronting reality, frorn an illusory and ambiguclus cvasion, we have gone
o n t o an unlim ite d c o n fi d e n c ei n th i n g s , e vents,and i n men.
. Naturally, this taking of sidesrequires us to dig deeply, to give reality the power and faculty of communicat.ion, the radiance, which,
u p unt . il t he t im e o f n e o -re a l i s m ,w e d i d n ‘ t b el i evei r coul d possess.
It has often been writ.ten that the war was the keystonefor neo-realism. This overwhelming event upset men’s souls; film directorsn
each in his own way, tried to transposet,hisoverwhelming emotion
onto the screen.As we saw absolutely no reason for participating in
it, the war seemedparticularly monstrous for us Italiaqrs.We had far
more reasons for not becoming involved. This rebellion, however,
w as not lim it ed to th a t p a rti c u l a r w a r; i t w ent much further. {t-w as
the absolute – I would even say thc eternal – revelation that war
always violates those fundamental human needs and values which
are so dear to us. This revelation was, in my opinion, the starting
p oint of a v as t h u ma n u p ri s i n g .
You rnight reply that this revelation was not the distinction o[
Italy alone. tr would tend to agree.Nonetheless,those venyqualinies
which rnany take to be the faults of our people, but which are
a c t ually our es s e n ti a vl i rtu e s- e x tre m ei n d i v i dual i sm, a l ack of ovenweening social pride, and so on – urge us towards a full and passionate reaction against the suprerne evil of war. {t was not “historical
man” who acted – that abstractcharacter in novels which follows a
couJseof action that is unrelated to a specific time and deals with
datesof past, presentand future wars indiscriminately – on the contrary, it was the real, deep thinking, hidden man who acted. You
might object by pointing out t.hat “historical man” and the man
without a label exist side by side. Thar is true enough, excepr rhar
rhey co-exist uselully only when, by the principle of clear channels of
communication, they find a comrnon level and merge; that is to say
thar the former, with his awareness,and the latter, with his profoundly original drive to live, must be in neal conr.acr.T-he need ro
Thesis on Neo-Realism
live, when ir is rich and huppy, can transcendits limits more easily
when, as in this case,it inspires and enlightens an entire fallen people who seerningly could no longer make the smallest contribution
to humani ry.
tr dare to think that.other peoples, even after the war, have shown
that they cont.inuedto consider man as a historical subject,ashistorical rnaterial, with deterrnined, almost inevitable, actions. T’his is
why they, unlike the Italians, did not give the cinema its freedorn.F’or
them, everyt.hing ccntinued; for us, everything began; F’or them the
war had been just another war; for us, it had been the last war. What
wetre the discoveries and the consequencesof this rush of post-war
pioneers, which wei-e new, not because they had never before been
known, but becausethey had never been felt in such a collective and
tenacious manner? The results were the endlesspossibility of study’
ing rnan t.hat we see opening before us, a non-abstract and concrete
study of rnan, as concrete as the rnen who provoked and underwent
the war. We needed to know and u.oseehow theseterrible eventscould
have occurred. The cinerna was the Erlostdirect and imrnediate way of
rnaking this sort of study. nt was pneferableto other art forrns which
did not possessa langr-lagewhich would readily expressour reactions
against the lies of those old, generalizedideasin which we found our,selvesclothed at the outbreak of the war, and which had preventedus
from atternpting the smallest rebellion.
– This powerful desire of the cinema to see and to analyse, this
i hunger for reality, for truth, is a kind of concretehornage to other peoiple, that is, to all who exist. This, among ot.herthings, is what distinguishes neo-realisrn from the American cinema. [n effect, the
.A.mericanposition is diametrically opposed to our own:whereas we
are a[tracted by the tnuth, by the reality which touchesus and which
we want to know and understanddirectly and thoroughly, the Arnericans continue to sat.isfythernselveswith a sweetenedversion of truth
produced through transpositions.
T-hat is why the Americans are undergoing a crisis; they have no
idea what subjectsto use.This is not possible in ltaly, for here, there
can never be a lack of truth. E,veryhour of the day, evenyplace, every
person, can be portrayed if they are shown in a manner which reveals
and ernphasizes the collective elements which continually shape
Springtrme in llaly
This is why one cannot speak of a crisis of subjects(facts),but only
of the possibility, as the casernay be, of a crisis of contenr (the interpretation of facts).
T’his essential difference was vcry clearly expressedby an American
producer who told rne:
TAesls on Neo-R.ealism
I t is t he abs o l u tetru th . Bu t i t i s s ri l l n o t e nough. nt i s not enough to
have the plane pas$by three times; it rnust pass by twenty gimes.We
work, therefore, to extricate ourselvesfrom abstractions.
In a novel, the protagonists were heroes;ihe shoesof the hero were
special shoes.We, on the other hand, are trying to find out what our
chanactershave in common; in my shoes,in his, in those of the rich,
in those of the poor, we find the sarneelements: the sirne labour of
Let us move on to style. F{ow can we expressthis reali[y (truth) in
the cinema? First, I would like to repeat.what trhave often said: The
contents always engender their ow{r expression, their own technique. Imagination, therefore,is all

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Bicycle Thieves / Ladri di biciclette

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