This is a study of the birth and development of a key movement in Italian film history. Surveying the major creative contributions to and critical receptions of this trend in Italian postwar cinema, the book begins by tracing the roots of neorealist film and drawing parallels to neorealist fiction. It then explores the ways in which neorealist cinema positioned itself in relation to the processes of postwar reconstruction, and what relations it may be said to have established with non-cinematic practices in the redefinition of national identity. This book discusses the impact neorealism has had on 1960s avant-garde cinema and on contemporary directors. It re-considers critical discourses that have emerged over the past few decades. It accounts for the revolutionary nature of neorealist film as its key practitioners conceived it.