on the Cinema*
"The true function of the cinema is not to
In this ringing manifesto, Cesare Zavattini, who wrotesuch neorealist films
for theItalian director Vittorio de Sica, laid down a challenge to allfilm makers "to excavate reality, to give it a power, a com-munication, a series of reflexes, which until recently we hadnever thought it had." Like Kracauer, he declares that thecamera haa "hunger for reality," that the invention of plotsto make reality palatable or spectacular is a flight from therichness of real life. The problem, he says, "lies in being ableto observe reality, not to extract fictions from it." Zavattiniwants to"make things
they are, almost by themselves,create their own special significance," and to analyze fact sodeeply that we see "things we have never noticed before."A woman buying a pair of shoes can become
drama if wedig deep enough into her life and the lives of those aroundher.Zavattini denies that we need to be bored by facts, or that
may get tired of poverty
a theme, or that there isanything beneath the notice
a film audience. In the mannerof the postwar Marxists, he belabors bourgeois attitudes;declares himself against the "exceptional"
or hero; callsfor a sense
solidarity, equality, and identification with thecommon man in the crowd. He wants the viewer to contributean intensity of vision that will "give human life its historicalimportance at every minute."
wants the director to takeboth the dialogue and the actors from real life, from "thestreet." And in a momentary forecast of the work ofAntonioni, he speaks
the film maker's need to "remain"in a scene, with all its "echoes and reverberations."
Cesare Zavattini, "Some Ideas
the .Cinema," Sight andSound, October 1953,
a recorded interviewpublished in La Revista del Cinema Italiano, December 1952.Translated
Pier Luigi Lanza.