The Italian Neo-realism movement came to fruition after the fall of Mussolini's Fascist government, near the end of World War II. The years of war and dictatorial leadership had caused the Italian film industry, much like the Italian economy, to decline. During this time 25% of the Italian population was out of work, amenities scarce and a large amount of Italian infrastructure were in dire need of reconstruction. The Neorealist movement was a symbol of cultural change and socio-economic progress in Italy. These films sought to show the "real Italy" and were the antithesis of the glossy Hollywood-influenced films that were approved by Mussolini's government. It was a creative response to the violence and economic hardship caused by fascism. With filmmakers in Rome denied both funding and facilities, they were forced to make use whatever resources they could. As a consequence of these conditions and in retaliation to American cinema, the era of Italian Neo-realism cinema was born. .
Italian Neorealism can be defined by a number of characteristics that are easily recognizable. One in particular is that they were almost exclusively shot on location. This was partly because the Cinecitta film studios had been damaged significantly during the war. However, its most distinct characteristic was the use of non-professional actors who relied greatly on improvisation. The idea was to create a greater sense of realism through the use of real people rather than all experienced actors. Additionally, the use of everyday conversational speech as opposed to rhetorical or literary dialogue was employed to give it an authentic feel.
In addition to these characteristic, Italian Neo-realism's narrative elements were also signature to its movement. It avoided neatly plotted stories in favor of loose, episodic structures that evolve organically but however still had a clear cause and effect chain. Its stories explored the plight of the working class and the poor.