Although the very existence of neorealism has been under scrutiny at least since the 1950s, an obstinate outlook on Italy’s cinema history still reduces all national films to anticipations, prolongations, or betrayals of this elusive new wave. Why is this the case? In this article, I explain the persisting critical hegemony of neorealism from the point of view of ideology critique. I argue that Bazin’s and Deleuze’s influential accounts of neorealism as a revolutionary, anti-narrative, zero-degree cinema have streamlined the fantasy of an innocent post-war Italy, of a child-like nation that redeemed itself from its past and was ready to start afresh. In this light, I suggest that the attachment to neorealism ought be recognized as a collective defence mechanism repressing the aborted ‘de-fascitizzazione’ of Italian post- Fascist society.
- Film theory & history
- Historical guilt