GIUSEPPE DE SANTIS ( 1949 )
Bondanella chapter 3 Required Reading : 75 – 85
This film, directed by Giuseppe De Santis in 1949, was considered the “Blockbuster of Neorealism”. It was indeed one of the few popular hit films produced by a neorealist director.
The movie is a tragedy in which good and evil are contrasted according to the typical scheme of Neorealism, where the characters are a stereotyping of the two opposite fronts. In this case, however, as regards the female characters of Francesca and Silvana, we witness an exchange during the film. Francesca who starts as a negative character becomes, at the end of the film, the character that represents the good, while Silvana does exactly the opposite.
The film, which tells the stories of the seasonal workers of rice (Mondine) contains many elements of the neorealist rules: first of all the approach in documentary style and the use of real workers as secondary actors. De Santis, however, mixes Neorealism with other genres to ensure success for his film. The peculiarity of this film is that it combines in a sometimes contradictory manner the Marxist ideology, which De Santis expresses at different points in the film, especially in the form of an obvious anti-Americanism, and the use of film styles from the United States such as the Gangster Movie.
The origin of his Antiamericanism is the concern that the liberation from fascism by the American troops, gradually becomes a cultural colonization of the generations of young Italians. Silvana represents the one who has already been influenced by this culture, while the diamond necklace represents the temptation offered by a lifestyle that seems precious but in reality is false.
On the other hand, there are those who, like Francesca, discovers among the rice workers the true values of life corresponding to those that could easily be traced back to Marxism.