Certain texts in the history of psychoanalytic theory form the primary body of reference material for psychoanalytic film theory. This changes from the first wave of traditional psychoanalytic film theory to the second wave, but an understanding of these texts is crucial for comprehending the theoretical project of each wave. Traditional psychoanalytic film theory relied heavily on Freud 1961 , Lacan 2006 , Miller 1977–1978 , and Althusser 1971 for its blend of psychoanalytic and political theorizing. Later theorists turned to Freud 1953 and Lacan 1978 .
These masterpieces by Rossellini, De Sica, and Visconti are indisputably major works of art that capture the spirit of postwar Italian culture and remain original contributions to film language. But with the exception of Rome, Open City , they were relatively unpopular within Italy and achieved success primarily among intellectuals and foreign critics. "Back in 1942, when Vittorio Mussolini, the head of the film industry, saw Visconti's Ossessione , he stormed out of the theater shouting, "This is not Italy!" Most Neorealist films elicited a similar reaction from postwar officials. The portrait of a desolate, poverty-stricken country outraged politicians anxious to prove that Italy was on the road to democracy and prosperity. The Catholic Church condemned many films for their anticlericalism and their portrayal of sex and working-class life. Leftists attacked the films for their pessimism and lack of explicit political commitment".  In particular, De Sica was criticized for "washing Italy’s dirty laundry in public" by Giulio Andreotti, a Christian Democratic politician who was later to become one of Italy’s most powerful prime ministers.