Film 1 December 12, 2013 Mise en scene of Bicycle Thieves The major feature of Neorealist filmmaking is a concentration on the lives of ordinary people struggling against adversity in the devastation of the aftermath of WWII. They tend to focus on poor, working class people and their everyday lives, the socio- economic conditions of the time, and the desperation and moral ambiguity which results. However, not only was the subject matter different that what had come efore – Neorealism also created a distinctive approach to film style.
By 1945, most of Cinecitt?¤, the large Roman studio complex, had been destroyed or was occupied by refugees and so sets were in short supply, as was camera and sound equipment. As such, Neorealist mise-en-scene relied on actual location shooting (mainly outdoors), and its photographic work tended towards the rawness of documentaries. Shooting on the streets and in private buildings made Italian camera perators incredibly adept at cinematography.
In addition, the lack of sound equipment (dialogue was dubbed through post-synchronization) allowed for smaller crews and much greater freedom of movement. This more complex mise-en-scene and more adept camerawork (the use of long shots, deep focus, long takes) allows for a multiplicity in the details. As such, the viewer is able to select for themselves what is of importance and to look for their own meaning, rather than having this forced pon them (as with Soviet Montage).
These characteristics are clearly evident in the opening scene of De Sica’s 1948 neorealist classic, Bicycle Thieves (below). Another major feature of Neorealism is the use of nonprofessionals, even in leading roles. For the adult ‘star’ of Bicycle Thieves, De Sica chose a factory worker – Lamberto Maggiorani: “The way he moved, the way he sat down, his gestures with those hands of a working man and not of an actor everything about him was perfect”.