Realities
in Film modernism
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Italian neo-realism, best represented perhaps by the films of De Sica (not Rossellini) had two characteristics. One was the conventionality of its narratives and other its rigorous objectivity. It told stories that directly reflected social situations and depicted men and women caught up in these situations. The stories were stories of how they coped with these social realities and in part of the characters as representative of these realities. Antonioni had a different interest and it is from that difference that the whole of his cinema derives. It is, in one sense, a simple proposition, yet characteristic of the modern cinema and perhaps of modernism more generally, namely that reality is a relation and that involves our view of things (not simply as they are, but as they are imagined and felt to be) and that view is necessarily personal and shifting. Fundamentally, for Antonioni, objective reality and thereby a stable reality were false and part of their falsity the sense of their singularity and homogeneity.

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