Close-up of the movie poster for Ladri di biciclette, an Italian neorealist drama film directed by Vittorio De Sica.

Italian Neorealism


This course was available in the past and may be presented again as part of the Open Enrollment curriculum.

This course is a comprehensive introduction to the work of filmmakers associated with Italian Neorealism and its immediate legacy. We begin with the earliest films that defined the movement. These productions were mostly filmed in urban and rural locations, frequently casting real people in place of actors to depict the conditions of the poor and working class in postwar Italy. The course will follow the development of the movement as it responds to the changed economic and political conditions in Italy and the influence of cultural developments in Europe and the United States, in particular the films of the French New Wave. These influences inspired more deeply personal stories and introduced a sense of mystery and fantasy that sought to raise Neorealism above the frequently despairing stories of its earlier, defining films.

Course Outline

In addition to the films selected for viewing, we will also read and discuss selected essays by writers and filmmakers associated with Neo-Realism, with a particular focus on the theories of screenwriter Cesare Zavattini. All articles will be posted to canvas as pdf files.

Some films are presently accessible on Amazon Prime, but most films are accessible on the Criterion Channel, which will serve as the primary viewing platform for the
course. Students can sign-up for the Channel here:

Course Syllabus


Online registration deadline: Thursday, Sept 22 at 5 pm CT.