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Il mio viaggio in Italia (My Journey in Italy)

A documentary could easily fill four hours with fascinating views of a journey to Italy, contemplating urban and rustic, modern and ancient. That’s not a trip Martin Scorsese would be likely to take, though. His Italy begins in the early 20th century, with the introduction of cinema, the art form that explained Italy—and his immigrant parents—to him. This film, made originally for Italian TV, concentrates on neorealism, the still-influential style that arose in Italy after World War II, and the directors who came to prominence with it—including people such as Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Luchino Visconti, who were soon to devise personal styles that left neorealism’s tenets behind. The framing device is a discussion of Roberto Rossellini’s 1946 Paisan, which reduced Scorsese’s parents to tears when they watched it on TV. The director begins his discussion of Italian neorealism, and its influence on him, by contrasting the stark, black-and-white Paisan with a Roy Rogers flick, the sort of brightly colored, blandly heroic entertainment presented to Brooklyn boys such as Scorsese in the late ’40s. From there, Scorsese and his collaborators (including longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker) go on to analyze 30 notable Italian films made between 1914 and 1963, including Fellini’s 8 1/2 (pictured) and La Dolce Vita, De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief and Umberto D., and Rossellini’s own Voyage to Italy. No Pasolini? No Bertolucci? No Tavianis? Well, Scorsese can cover only so much territory in 246 minutes. A sequel is planned. The film screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th and Independence Avenue SW. Free. (202) 357-3091. (Mark Jenkins)