The director rather than the star provided context. A key element of Italian art films was ambiguity, whereas in conventional Hollywood films everything is neatly tied up by the end. Classic Hollywood films presented a make-believe world and ˘Casablanca,÷ for example, while set in Morocco and Paris, was shot on the studio lot with the exception of the airport sequence, in contrast to ˘The Bicycle Thief÷ which was shot on the streets of Rome for the most part.
The new realistic style of the post World War II era that came to be known as Italian Neo-Realist focused on the lives and struggles of ordinary people trying to get by in a war ravaged, poverty-stricken country. In subject matter and style, the Neo-Realists created a body of work between 1945 and 1949 that had a profound effect on world cinema. The first of these films, Roberto RosselliniĂs groundbreaking ˘Open City÷ (Roma, citta aperta) was shot in 1945, and like the films that followed, it dealt with contemporary social issues from a humanist perspective; the filmmakers were not out to offer solutions to social problems, but to depict them by showing the effect on individual lives. The problems faced by the characters in Neo-Realism Italian films ˘had some degree of immediacy and broad concern÷ (Ellis 211). Italian art cinema dealt with social problems, but its emphasis was on the effects on individual lives, not explaining causes or coming up with solutions. The context, howe