SOUL SLAVES - the politics and ethics of the use of non-actors in the films of Francesco Rosi and Pier Paolo Pasolini
"Every time the question of language comes to the surface, it signifies that a series of other problems are emerging: the formation and growth of the dominant class, the necessity of establishing more secure and intimate relations between the dominant groups and the national popular masses, that is the reorganization of the hegemony"
Antonio Gramsci (Skira,1995, 15)
"The job of an actor is to portray characters and circumstances we don't have personal experiences of. Of course this isn't easy (sic) explaining this to the disabled lobby, which tends to be very politicised."
Romila Garai (able bodied star of British film about disabled people Inside I'm dancing) (The Guardian 08.09.04)
From its origins in post-war Italy neorealist cinema appeared to be explicitly political, a convention which has remained central throughout the genre's subsequent history. However the politics of neo-realism are somewhat imprecise and have engaged in a continuing dialectical relation with the genre's aesthetics. The first wave of neorealist directors led by De Sica, Rossellini and Visconti increasingly favoured the aesthetic elements of the equation, a tendency which was continued and developed by the second wave, notably Michelangelo Antonioni and Federico Fellini. By the time that Francesco Rosi and Pier-Paolo Pasolini began to make films in the late fifties the pendulum had swung once again and they responded to the prevailing ethos (of bourgeois introspection) with a return to explicitly political cinema. The presence of the political was formally emphasised by their decision to cast non-actors, a strategy which had in itself come to function as a signifier of (notional) political content, it also served to confirm their links to the neo-realist tradition.
For the non-actors themselves of course any such swings in aesthetic fashion or indeed linguistic re-ordering are entirely academic. They are constantly occupied by the imperatives of material survival and, as Benjamin noted (1992, 248), their experience of history is both relentless, and arguably undialectical. In choosing to extract its non-actors from the poorest classes in the material sense neorealism provides these individual non-actors with a temporary source of food, drink and money; a brief respite from unrelenting poverty. A respite however, which in common with the Bakhtinian view of carnival, is inherently temporary. The fundamentally temporary nature of the celebratory experience (play acting is infinitely less demanding than manual labour  ) engenders a pragmatic approach to the enjoyment of any surplus resources - they are consumed immediately as the poor have neither the time nor any incentive to believe in some sense of inevitable progress which is a necessary pre-requisite of deferred gratification. The temporary relief also serves to maintain the illusions of freedom and inclusion necessary to both liberal democracy and neorealism and casts their respective directors in a light of ethical benevolence.
The explicitly political aspects of neorealism were founded upon the notion of resistance as shared experience, and moral responsibility. The collective element in the equation being provided by a presumption of opposition to fascism, although it is perhaps more accurate to attribute the emergence of neorealism to the political vacuum which characterised Italy in the immediate post war period. This is certainly the reading favoured by Gilles Deleuze who saw the particular historical circumstances in the country as contributing to a moment in which "the cinema had to begin again from zero" (1997a, 210) . American critics at the time interpreted the films as "the inordinate pretension of a defeated country, an odious form of blackmail, a way of making the conquerors ashamed." (1997, 212). The conflicting views would seem to support Mira Liehm's view of directors "more concerned with subjective issues than with a faithful rendering of physical reality." (1984, 71) Pasolini himself (retrospectively) described the process as typical of periods of "vital crisis"  , for him neorealism was entirely superstructural and not sufficiently connected to historical reality. What does seem clear is that 'implied social criticism' quickly became recognised as a determining convention of neorealism.  It is more difficult to identify precisely any shared political view amongst the practitioners of the new generic form although the two Italian philosophical figures of Croce and Gramsci are most often cited as points of reference. However while Visconti and Zavattini drew upon Gramsci's ideas of 'collective will', his problematisation of the uneasy relations between the Italian industrial north and under-developed south, and his focus upon the central role to be played by the intellectual, the majority of the neorealist directors and writers seem to have adopted a position more consistent with Croce's romantic (subjective idealism). 
The ideal of an Italian people united in common struggle, like neorealism in its purest form, was indecently short lived. Within two years the Christian Democrats had established their own particular form of bourgeois hegemony, by 1952 their leading spokesman Giulio Andreotti had publicly indicted the "false images that the neorealist films were exporting to the world." (2002, 23). During the immediate post war period the neorealist directors had all broadly assumed an ideological position on the left. All of their films examined the impact of material historical conditions upon subaltern people (in the initial period even single protagonists were studiously avoided in favour of reflecting collective experience) but this quality was not to prove enduring as the directors responded to the post-1948 return to normality by pursing increasingly subjective paths. Perhaps the period may be more accurately understood by using Frederic Jameson's idea of the 'vanishing mediator' (2002, 22). Such mediators occur in moments of paradigmatic historical change following the removal of a political system which in turn generates the vacuum or 'vital crisis' experienced in the Italy of 1946 (or the Iraq of our present period). In such moments there is invariably an identification, inherently temporary, with 'the people' which endures until normal service has been imperceptibly resumed. In terms of the balance of power, or relations between social groups, there is little evidence of any substantive change during such periods they are more consistent with Gramsci's formulation of the 'reorganization of the hegemony' cited at the head of this essay.
Such an interpretation of the apparent historical blank page open and ready to be written upon by all people equally is not inconsistent with the neorealist master Rosselini's view of the bodies of his non-actors.  It is however a somewhat naïve reading, particularly in the light of Benjamin's acknowledgment of the habitual and continuous nature of the conditions of 'vital crisis' under which subaltern people exist. It is not unreasonable to see the political choices made by the neorealist directors as entirely secondary to their aesthetic concerns, as Antonioni observed "it was no longer so important to examine the relationship between the individual and his environment." (1984, 107). Their ideological position seems to be merely a flag of convenience, and one which is conveniently sensitive to the prevailing winds and perhaps neorealism is not as political as it may seem.
For the directing classes history invariably manifests itself in more kinetic dialectical terms than for subaltern people as the focus notionally shifts between the economic/political and the cultural/symbolic in line with free market movements. Accordingly by the late sixties both Pasolini and Rosi had in their turn become increasingly preoccupied with the form of their work, adhering, in varying degrees, to the perception of cinema as language. Following the cyclical pattern exemplified by neorealism (and Italian fashion) their work became less explicitly political after 1968. Pasolini departed from an initially Gramscian perspective (in the films from Accatone 1961 up to and including What are the Clouds 1968) and became increasingly concerned with semiotics, linguistics and self (in the films from Teorema 1968 to Salo in 1975). Rosi progressed more steadily with his broadly Crocean view of a language of historical objectivity (best illustrated by his most celebrated film 1961's Salvatore Giuliano) but increasingly chose to foreground his Brechtian predilection for strategies of reflexivity (exemplified by The Mattei Affair 1972 in which Rosi is the film's onscreen protagonist).  These refinements are equally consistent with Gramsci's view of periods of history in which surface change dialectically stimulates 'reorganization of the hegemony' (see above). Such a process was clearly taking place again in the Italy of the 'economic miracle' during the late nineteen sixties and, as it had during the original neorealist period of 1946, this shift was once more accompanied by the relative prominence of the symbolic over the political that the philosopher had anticipated.
Any such " reorganization of the hegemony" in concrete terms acts to maintain the subaltern status of society's 'non-actors'. In dialectical terms the political must supersede the aesthetic for sustained periods of time in order to offer subaltern peoples any possibility of genuine participation in either production of cinema, or indeed the production of any meaningful challenge to hegemony. The dominance of the material, and political, over the aesthetic corresponds more accurately with the reality of a constant state of emergency in which working people live. In order for there to be any prospect of genuine change or progress for oppressed people greater access must be secured to the means of production and distribution. Only then could there be any genuine possibility of reflecting their own material existence and experience in their culture. A culture which is not dependent upon being grasped, unpacked, interpreted or understood by intellectual intermediaries (independence cannot but precede post-colonialism). A culture which cannot be absorbed by liberal democratic hegemony. Poetry, and Poetics, invariably tend to confirm the subjugation of the oppressed by reinforcing the hierarchical superiority of the single artist or auteur and the economic supremacy of bourgeois producers and distributors. The challenge for the world's 'non-actors' is to develop their own cultural forms into a viable alternative to liberal capitalist culture, and ultimately its political economy, a means through which their experiences and values may be expressed and celebrated.
For the individual non-actors given a brief opportunity to work in film production such progress cannot be high on the agenda. The state of constant precarisation in which the lowest classes are maintained in all modes of production, including capitalism, militate against any formation of the deferred gratification required to form a basis for possible progress. For this to happen energies would need to be devoted to the development of the existing independent means of working class expression as opposed to the temptations of brief participation in hegemonic models such as bourgeois cinema. This development would need to incorporate the political and ethical values of non-actors contained in their own experience, and not be dependent on performing for superior directors. The theorist Terry Eagleton approaches culture in the Marxist sense of bringing together 'base and superstructure in a single notion'  (2000a, 22) a view consistent with Gramsci's formulation of hegemony and one which is necessary in order for subaltern people to act independently. He warns against dominant culture's tendency to dissolve subaltern particularity into some bourgeois conception of universality.  (2000a, 55) For him acknowledging the impact that dominant power has historically wielded upon people is fundamental to avoiding some pure, romantic notion of the oppressed and as such is consistent with Marx's own analysis ( 2000a, 55);
"for Marx at least, that universality had to be realized at the level of individual specificity. Communism would be a relation between the free, fully developed individuals engendered by liberal bourgeois society, not some nostalgic regression to the pre-bourgeois epoch."
For individual non-actors material sustenance is a matter of priority. Yet although their priority is survival the temporary respite that the dream (illusion) of cinema can offer them is also of value in producing hope, despite the fact that they are aware that any such hope is unrealistic. In this sense the central tenets of Marx's theory of surplus value retain their relevance, particularly the idea of capitalist illusion (for which cinema in general and neo realist cinema in particular provide an uncanny simulacrum in microcosm).
In common with the illusion of cinema, what appears to be happening in capitalism (and neorealism) is often substantively undermined and even contradicted by material reality. The illusion is based upon a series of assumptions. However in the case of liberal democracy (and cinema) these assumptions remain at best implicit and at worst wilfully obscured. The freedom of choice at the heart of capitalism is fundamentally relative and largely theoretical, founded as it is on 'institutional inequality of conditions' and 'economic compulsion'. (Marx, 1976, 48-9) The relations between non-actors and directors (and by extension producers) are consistent with a Marxist interpretation of the appearance of social relations between men functioning more realistically as 'social relations between things, or between men and things'(Marx, 1976, 54), which form the heart of the capitalist illusion . As the theorist Slavoj Zizek has noted (2001,1) any 'freedom' in liberal democracy is conditional upon not questioning the basis of that system of order  . In the period between Marx and Zizek capitalism has progressively incorporated built in correctives and continues to adapt itself to changing material conditions. Hegemony is effectively established and maintained through a combination of inalienable civil liberties, (access to which is equally modified by 'institutional inequality') and old fashioned brute force. Strategies of apparent social or cultural inclusion have proved to be preferable to those of exclusion or confrontation which are maintained as a tool of last resort. Pasolini's continued 'transgressions' against taste, refinement and bourgeois morality are a useful example of the process, they functioned in effect to reinforce the established order - and its equitable paternal magnanimity which effectively indulges (and encourages) the adolescent indiscretions of its prodigal sons - by virtue of its (liberally tolerant) censure and attention. The prevailing system has developed an infinite, and egalitarian, capacity for undiscerning incorporation in order to sustain and reproduce itself, as Zizek confirms; "today's liberal consensus is the result of the Leftist workers' struggle and pressure upon the State, it incorporated demands which were 100 or even less years ago dismissed by liberals as horror." (2001, 3)
As Marx consistently spelled out the subaltern classes are historically and materially altered by the process of exploitation (2000a, 78) , and it is only from this point of realistic acknowledgement that they can go forward. In this sense he and Freud are in agreement; "As for today's primitive peoples, more careful study has shown that we have no reason whatever to envy them their instinctual life by reason of the freedom attaching to it; it is subject to restrictions of a different kind, which are perhaps even more severe than those imposed on modern civilized man."(2004, 66)
Yet it is precisely such a retrogressive, nostalgic and monolithic view that the casting of non-actors runs the risk of reproducing. Non-actors are individuals affected materially and psychologically by the society in which they live, not pure signs of some simpler time, or more primitive form of life. The concentrated form in which they experience universal struggle and suffering is reflected in their own specific cultural forms - the blues, gallows humour and savage piss take - which incorporate and articulate the material and psychological deprivations that they experience. These forms express/impress the immediate, the temporal and the celebratory and often involve dialectical inversions. Inversions which take the interpellating symbols of the dominant order and, by direct use, overturn their meanings.
Non-actors appear in cinema superficially as signifiers of pure energy, forces of nature but ultimately they function as representations of innocence, uncorrupted by the (self-reflexive) knowingness of the bourgeois hegemony in which they play a part. On their part of course they are in no position to turn any role down, they too have been taught by the dominant system to grasp any opportunity for advancement. Indeed it is the concentrated form of their struggle for material survival which operates to confer authenticity on cinematic products. This concentrated form in which the poor experience the reality of the dominant order is most perniciously characterised by their assumed need for mediation from hierarchical superiors. This need for external intervention forms the most obvious absence in Marx's theory. (1976, 84) 
Both Francesco Rosi and Pier Paolo Pasolini incorporated non-actors into their films in order to provide authenticity through a form of typage, or physiognomic language. A language which they both believed they could read and write, but one which arguably neither were able to speak. Faces were carefully selected in order to signify notionally objective meaning and non-actors recruited predominantly to incorporate the characters and experiences of subaltern people into utterances within dominant discourse.  An examination of the nature of that meaning and the political and ethical implications of materially stable authors using less stable people as writing materials supports an interpretation of neorealist or poetic cinema as uniquely paradigmatic of the incorporative, clientilist strategies of broader modern culture and capitalism. The materially disadvantaged are 'free' to 'consensually' participate in a process which captures the poverty of their conditions of existence and in so doing confirms their inferior hierarchical status while simultaneously providing evidence of the openness and equity of those that solicited this participation. Marginalised people are brought into the fold of capitalist meritocracy and liberal democracy that is cinema production for a brief period, before being returned to the wild.
In dialectical terms film directors derive at least two layers of confirmed supremacy from their use of non-actors. In material, power and class terms  they are superior to the majority of their non-actors. A superiority which is further enhanced by their liberal inclusion of non-actors in their work. While in relation to more mainstream directors they derive a conferred legitimacy from non-actors, a superiority in ethical terms. They may even derive spiritual superiority in terms of perceived virtue, or theological charity. So in addition to the surplus of material value extracted from non-actors there is a less tangible surplus to be harvested, in political, ethical and spiritual terms. For the non-actors themselves turning down the opportunity to earn money would be an act of pointless self-denial. The constant present (like cinema) of their reality frames any act of possible non-participation in the forces of the dominant culture as futile self-sacrifice. Invariably relations of loyalty, gratitude and dependence emerge between non-actors and directors. At no point is there parity, at no point any possible acknowledgement of non-actors as independent individual subjects.
The authority of the originating single artist remains steadfastly unimpeachable throughout and is further reinforced by the artist's definitive and inalienable right to prioritise poetics over politics. It is uncanny how invariably the status of poet or poetry is incorporated into the description of notionally political cinema or its directors. By virtue of their very association with 'political' subject matter, usually involving the plight of the 'wretched of the earth', such film makers seem - by a process of osmosis - to automatically absorb the heightened canonical status of purveyors of cinematic poetry. A status which also bestows the concomitant illusion of existing outside of the free market economics of liberal democracy. The related assumption of an equivalence between authorial supremacy and benevolence in neorealist, poetic or organic cinema is fundamental to the politics of non-acting.
In his essay Gli attori nel cinema di Pier Paolo Pasolini(The actors in the cinema of Pier Paolo Pasolini) the critic Massimiliano Valente argued that Pasolini's preference for non-actors was inextricably linked with the director's formulation of the cinema of poetry. He stated in the clearest possible terms that:
"In the cinema of poetry the author must be the only protagonist, poetry in the form of cinema that the spectator must manage to grasp. In this context Pasolini asks of his actors not a collaboration, but a total abandonment, in a way in which he can mould the figures present in the film to his own vision…this results in the actors' performances being pulverised, reducing them to brief shots and a frequent recourse to mime (gesture)to underline a mood."(Valente, 3)
Professional actors are significantly more knowing, and more difficult to manipulate. Casting therefore becomes crucial to poetry, as Pasolini himself acknowledged:
"The search for the actors is the thing that occupies me most because in that moment I verify whether my hypotheses are arbitrary, if a physiognomy I have imagined, effectively corresponds to the character I have imagined he must have. When I need young actors, that are easy-going, cunning, shrewd, but still a bit uncertain and a bit funny, I don't look for young actors just out of Drama School who can maybe at a push produce some remake of those that actually live in the slums and the shanty towns and are really like that ! More simply, I go straight to a Roman shanty town and look for some lads that will play, in a certain sense, themselves. When on the other hand, I need someone to play a more complex part I would take recourse to a professional actor, but I keep this choice to the indispensable minimum." (Valente, 2)
Pasolini retained all creative power and assumed that non-actors could only be themselves, and therefore that presumably they were simply being, lending him their essence. It is equally conceivable that they were giving Pasolini exactly what, they had astutely identified, the director desired, because that way they were likely to earn some money. A view which perhaps explains Pasolini's empirical experience:
"For proletarian films it's enough to go on the street and you find immediately someone disposed to give themselves truthfully, totally, without mediation, without fear, without modesty, without the sense of seeming ridiculous, in short generously. While the idea of taking a Milanese industrialist that could play a Milanese industrialist in a film is practically unrealisable, and so with the wife of an industrialist, so with the children of an industrialist; therefore there is inevitably, in the choice of actors, a certain compromise."(Valente, 3)
There are a number of value judgments here which contribute to the mythologisation of the sub-proletariat, however it is sufficient to note the Freudian wish fulfilment which manifestly (and latently) underpins Pasolini's attribution of essential purity and innocence to the lower orders. There is neither bliss, nor (mercifully) endemic ignorance, for those perceived as the 'wretched of the earth'. Valente's final point underlines Pasolini's consistent use of dubbing in his films, in direct contrast to Francesco Rosi for example. Due to the proliferation of regional dialects within the Italian peninsula (and the absence of a unanimously accepted notion of received pronunciation) it was expedient to unify the actors' voices in a single if 'substantially false' language. The technique also brought other peripheral benefits:
"Often, then, an actor that has the right physical presence, a face an attitude, can have a voice totally unsuitable, a problem which one can resolve only with dubbing." (Valente, 3)
This approach is consistent with an interpretation of the non-actor as object, a mere symbol of leftist political sympathy and historical authenticity. Cinema retains the power to incorporate and alter nature simultaneously in order to conform with its master design. The non-actor can be seen as a uniquely compliant and malleable object whose relative inferiority in power terms ensures not only tacit collaboration with the dominant will but also expresses itself, outwardly at least, in terms of gratitude for its very manipulation. This can also be seen as further evidence of the illusory functioning of cinema. Non-actors are individual subjects with distinct points of view and in reality they need to get paid. Any external expressions of ingratitude or excessive independence would be counter productive in the present tense, although potentially counter-hegemonic in an hypothetical long term future. Non-actors are able to live only in the present tense, any sense of future is either pragmatically resisted or cast in the immaterial terms of fantasy/spirituality. Meanwhile, like the bears, they keep on dancing, to the director's time.
The relationship between the director and the non-actor is a complex one. In strictly economic terms it could be argued that both are providers of labour engaged by the Producers who provide the capital for their remuneration and the completion of the film product. Superficially at least artists represent an anomaly within such analysis in the sense that their creative or intellectual capital (by virtue of its essential intangibility) is more difficult to harness and exploit. Film makers have some bargaining power due to their ownership of the film's 'vision' which is secured within their impregnable subjectivity. Actors on the other hand have only their (superficially objective) physicality to trade. Stars can exploit (or allow to be exploited by owners of capital) such imprecise commodities as aura, enigma and animal magnetism to ensure their continued employment. Such qualities are dependent upon the presumption of inner depth (subjective character)and uniqueness generating attractiveness on the part of the audience.
Non-actors by contrast are denied the temporal continuity necessary to construct such mythic qualities, they are always new-born and always naked. By its very nature the status of non-actor is inherently non-permanent, a convention confirmed by the negativity of the nomenclature. It could be argued that, like virginity, the status of non-acting can be maintained only until the first experience of consummation, or until money has changed hands. You can only be a non-actor once, although it would be perhaps more realistic to broaden the status to include those who are prepared to restrict themselves to one act of consummation in any decade. Non-actors remain unburdened by the gravity of history, syllogistically free to float aimlessly without a future - adrift in inner space. Tellingly there are also, as yet, no records of working class space explorers - astronauts, discoverers of new worlds, conquistadors or otherwise. In addition to this spatial confinement the subaltern classes also experience further temporal deprivation. Non-actors in their virtual ahistorical state do not apparently grow old. They remain caught in the amber of adolescence favoured by invariably romantic film makers. They are frozen in time and as Marx acknowledged;
"As with a single individual, the universality of its development, its enjoyment, its activity depends on saving time. In the final analysis all forms of economics can be reduced to an economics of time." (McLellan, 1973, 84)
If the working classes in general remain invisible to history, save as unknown soldiers, their non-actors are confined to a state of eternal nostalgia or juvenile expectation, kept in time, as their former underdeveloped selves. Is it possible for a non-actor to progress to the status of actor? If so, when and how does this metamorphosis take place?
In practice any non-actor's future, and possible progress, is absolutely dependent upon the discretionary power of the single author in the role of 'Padre [or] Padrone' . As such the relationship is not definitively tied to the capitalist mode of production, it is inherently retrogressive, harking back to the sites of purer primitive cultures that so pre-occupied Pasolini and, to a lesser extent, Francesco Rosi. Back to the culture of classical antiquity, to the Greeks and beyond, to the fields of mythology and tragedy from which the lower orders are conspicuously excluded. It is a classical relationship, in terms of the relative power of its participants and its poles of innocence and experience are clearly hierarchical, but is it an ethical one?
Both Pasolini and Rosi positioned themselves on the political left and frequently expressed views which at least notionally supported greater social equality within Italy, (and in Pasolini's case further afield) a position which brings an implicit duty to behave in an ethical manner.  Their engagement with subject matter which directly addressed the struggles of dominated peoples in the rapidly changing landscape of post-war Italy confirms their commitment to investigate reality. In choosing to involve non-actors in their projects both men incorporated a sense of authenticity into their films and gave opportunities to marginalised individuals. The question remains however, that whether in so doing they served principally their own interests as members of an elite within dominant culture. An elite which by virtue of its very ability to critique reality testifies to the liberal democratic illusion of the openness and accountability of the dominant culture. An intellectual elite defined by privilege and tacitly permitted to engage in paternalistic widening of aesthetic participation but politically restricted to at best neutral and at worst reactionary practices.
Both men allied themselves with the neorealist tradition at the beginning of their careers deriving the explicit signifier of leftist political commitment that the genre conveys. I would suggest, that in common with any entity which seeks to modify itself by prefixing neo or new to its traditional nomenclature, (Wave, Labour, Deal or Emperor's Clothes), there is invariably precious little novelty or change present, in any substantive sense. Such moments, or movements, more accurately correspond to Gramsci's view of hegemonic re-organization, and are invariably characterised by the opportunist marketing strategies (a charitable reading might acknowledge the possibly unconscious nature of such cultural and economic expediency) of small intellectual elites. It is a phenomenon which is enshrined in Italian culture and history as exemplified by Gramsci himself, and Machiavelli before him, and is perhaps best illustrated by the summation offered by Prince Salina (played by Burt Lancaster) in Luchino Visconti's 1963 film of Giovanni di Lampedusa's novel The Leopard; "if everything is to remain the way it is, then everything must change."
Both Pasolini and Rosi seem to have been genuine in their commitment to identifying social and political injustice, however it is less certain whether their own working practices did not contribute to maintaining and reproducing the systematic disparities they chose to describe. If in a political sense there was little new in their chosen working practices how do they measure up in terms of ethics? In ethical terms how did their use of non-actors impact upon the individuals concerned, the conventional practices of the cinema industry and broader society?
In Aristotelian terms ethics are inextricably linked with the pursuit of happiness (1976, 84) . There is an element of virtue in this ethical state, but it is less significant than the continuation and sustainability of material well being - in short a sense of security. It is this very security and temporal continuity that is denied to subaltern people invariably and denied to non-actors definitively. Perhaps it was for this reason that Aristotle saw fit to except the masses from his ethical prescription: (1976, 68)
"To judge by their lives, the masses and the most vulgar seem - not unreasonably - to believe that the Good or happiness is pleasure. Accordingly they ask for nothing better than the life of enjoyment (Broadly speaking there are three main types of life: the one just mentioned, the political, and thirdly the contemplative.) The utter servility of the masses comes out in their preference for a bovine existence….Cultured people, however, and men of affairs identify the good with honour, because this is (broadly speaking) the goal of political life…..The third type of life is the contemplative."
This would seem to free up the masses to pursue Freud's pleasure principle unencumbered by the restrictions of the reality principle endured by the political and cultured classes (2004, 63) . However exercise of desire is limited by the means available to acquire its object, and the masses are consistently deprived of means. Aristotle observed that:
"anyone who has a correct and complete notion of what he desires and who acts (as he must) on his desires, will usually act morally." (1976, 40)
However he modifies his position by suggesting that all actions are improved and enriched by (good) practice:
"But the virtues we do acquire by first exercising them, just as happens in the arts. Anything that we have to learn we learn by the actual doing of it: people become builders by building and instrumentalists by playing instruments. Similarly we become just by performing just acts." (1976, 40-1)
Cinema acting is a particularly appropriate field to consider from an ethical and political viewpoint as in common with those two disciplines it is at its most effective when it is least visible, or apparently natural or real. In lived reality of course, as Aristotle acknowledges, ethics, politics, and poetics (including acting) are learned and improved by practice and experience. The entire history of cinema acting is subsumed within the historical experience of liberal capitalism and in line with the central tenets of that system its classifications are largely dictated by exchange value rather than some inherent utility. In the most detailed study to date of the practice the American critic James Naremore distinguishes between the amateur and professional forms of acting. He emphasises however that "all forms of actorly behaviour have formal, artistic purposes, and ideological determinants." (1988, 49). Only the true 'amateur', frozen in the headlights with no idea where to run is, at least apparently free of these determinants. All of the varying degrees of 'professional' acting have an intrinsically artificial quality of contrived performance.
The relationship between acting and labour has been complicated during the last hundred years by the development of the 'star system' which characterises the dominant economic, and arguably cultural, form of Hollywood cinema. There is a clear hierarchy which runs from stars to non-actors (the poles of the professional and amateur forms) in terms of economic power and artistic status. So while the American screen actor Robert Mitchum's critique of acting; "it sure beats working" is made more telling by virtue of his blue collar antecedence, it is equally effective in obfuscating genetic selection and perpetuating the myth of the superficial ordinariness of the star. The obverse of which is reflected in Franco Citti's line delivered in the person of the inveterate hustler Accatone, the protagonist of Pasolini's 1961 debut film, when faced with his first experience of manual labour in his inevitably doomed attempt to turn over a new leaf; "Are we in Buchenwald?" (see endnote i below).
In essence all screen acting is a form of typage, individuals are cast based almost entirely upon their physical appearance, as Mitchum also remarked - teaching someone acting is akin to "teaching them to be tall." Where the professional form is distinct from the amateur is in the assumptions which underlie the delineation. The professional is hired to fulfill a task for which he is paid a contractual fee. The analogy with the industrial wage labourer is not entirely appropriate, the model of contracting which operates within the construction industry is perhaps more helpful, and reflective of contemporary post-industrial practices in the west. The actor is a sub-contractor paid in line with the demand for his services and the availability of equivalent suppliers. When plumbers are in short supply they expect to charge the customer a premium. They (screen-actors and plumbers) are paid a pre-agreed sum for the entire job irrespective of the time factor (price work). Beneath the actor are the extras who are paid a small fee for their time in a similar fashion to unskilled building labourers (day rate). Both within and outside of this structure is the star, or architect, who can charge astronomical fees based on such abstract notions as appearance, fashion/reputation, originality or sex-appeal - the finished product's value being substantially enhanced (theoretically) by their individual signature. Non-actors on the other hand will come out without a call out fee, and presumably plug all leaks; for love.
The amateur is invariably presumed to be participating for 'love', rather than money, and is therefore seen as bringing the concomitant benefits of ethical superiority and Corinthian purity. Even the apparently enduring Olympian ideal has openly acknowledged the inconsistencies inherent within this evident fiction. Non-actors are still cast for this reason however, and for the fact that they will only perform once. This brings to the neorealist director the blank canvas he desires thus enabling him to construct the non-actor and avoid breaking the dramatic spell in which he seeks to bind his (equally blank) audience. In addition it brings to the cinematic work of art the incongruous state of a true original, particularly incongruous in the context of the digitally modified age of mechanical reproduction. In addition the relationship between actor and producer is explicitly commercial, money changes hands in the present tense. The political economy of non-actors and directors on the other hand is based upon entirely abstract notions such as hope, trust, and the future which in my view generate an explicit ethical duty on the part of directors.
Habitually, professional and semi-professional actors are actively seeking work, whereas by definition non-actors need to be discovered or unearthed. The distinction is one between the assumed epistemological status of the professional (in the knowledge economy) and the pure ontology of the non-actor (simply being himself). Historically non-actors have invariably been drawn from the bottom of the socio-economic hierarchy, from the peripheral margins rather than the metropolitan centres. They represent in contemporary terms the former working class, the lumpen proletariat, in whom neorealist directors have consistently identified the openness, emptiness and desperateness required to inscribe their poetry upon. Naremore has gone as far as to develop a hierarchy of the amateur form ranging from neorealist protagonists to hapless victims.(1988, 273) . In his classification neorealist non-actors are indistinguishable from professionals; they represent however the perfection of capitalist downsizing in that they freely consent to work for nothing. In an uncanny microcosm of the workings of liberal-democratic hegemony non-actors will disavow the reality of their situation in favour of the hope of future remuneration, security or stardom.
As directors are more than aware of this reality due to the repetition of cultural and economic processes particular to their craft I would suggest that they have an ethical duty towards non-actors which is entirely distinct from their social relations with professional actors. I would suggest that neorealist directors as artists of 'resistance' have an enhanced responsibility to exercise a duty of care in their repeated dealings with non-actors. Indeed Millicent Marcus has suggested that the genre "was never an aesthetic code at all, but strictly an ethical one. " (1986, 23) 
Any such repetition of their chosen activity is fundamentally denied to non-actors. They are denied the opportunity to practice their craft (or art), they are not speakers but words to be spoken by another tongue, they are not artists but merely the characters in another's art . By definition non-actors must appear to be guileless, organic symbols of pure reality in order to signify authenticity to the viewer. A quality often (in my view erroneously) associated with children. Although any detailed analysis of the use of children as non-actors would require an entire study to be devoted to that subject, for the purposes of this essay it is sufficient to note the virtually inevitable quasi-parental component present in any relation between director and non-actors. The director is perceived as the possessor of greater experience, wisdom and power by the non-actor. He (or more rarely she) has the ultimate power to include or exclude the non-actor (irrespective of the fact that the money may be provided by the producer)a relationship for which the only available precedents for the habitually excluded are those of the Father or the Teacher. Indeed this identification is strong enough to transcend the conventions of age and seniority. Irrespective of the age of the non-actor they will tend to feel child-like in the presence of the director as illustrated by the case of Lamberto Maggiorani.  Such reaction is perfectly understandable due to the pathological lack of opportunity to mature available to non-actors.
Theoretically any non-actor who had appeared in a number of film roles could at some imperceptible and ill-defined point in the uncertain future be afforded the status of 'actor'. However this remains difficult to assess due to the relative paucity of data as to such repeat-offenders, indeed Pasolini is perhaps the only major director of non-actors to provide ongoing opportunities for practice. Both Franco Citti and Ninetto Davoli worked with him throughout his career and yet it remains a subject of some conjecture as to whether the Italian cultural establishment regards either of these sub-working class men as 'actors'. Pasolini is unique in his use of non-actors in many respects. In addition to using non-actors as dramatic protagonists - Franco Citti in Accatone 1961, Ettore Garofalo Mamma Roma 1962, Enrique Irazoqui The Gospel according to St Matthew 1964, Ninetto Davoli Hawks and Sparrows 1964 - he also drew supporting non-actors from outside of the subaltern classes. Intellectuals such as Enzo Siciliano, Giorgio Agamben, Elsa Morante and Natalia Ginzburg, the operatic diva Maria Callas and the Olympic athlete Giuseppe Gentile all appear in his films. However after 1968 there is a clear shift in Pasolini's political and aesthetic strategy. The international student movement seemed to leave him disillusioned and led to him abandoning politically engaged cinema in favour of more personal and professional projects. During this period, although he remained loyal to his coterie of non-actors (Citti, Davoli and Laura Betti) they tended to feature in supporting roles as he favoured the most fashionable lead male actors of the period- Terence Stamp in Teorema 1968 and Jean-Pierre Leaud in Porcile 1969. Ironically, or predictably, this coincided with Pasolini's most commercially successful period (with the soft porn strategies of the Trilogy of Life films Decameron 1971, Canterbury Tales 1972, The 1001 Nights 1974). Sadly, at the end of his life with his final film 1975's Salo Pasolini made a partial return to politically engaged cinema. The film features professional actors in the roles of fascist martinets who impose sexual and physical brutality and humiliation on a group of adolescents played by non-actors. The film is a concentrated summary of the contradictions implicit in Pasolini's use of non-actors. This inconsistency extends to the ethical implications of his use of the practice, as the critic Gary Indiana has noted Pasolini was; "a little too full of improving jeremiads for the rest of the world, and suffered a bit too histrionically the pain of people he didn't really know(though the fact that he thought he did probably killed him). And used his fame and money to get sex from good looking street trade. This doesn't really spoil him for me." (2000b, 18) 
The convention of using individual non-actors sparingly is more consistent with the aesthetic practices employed by Francesco Rosi, for whom non-actors are utilised exclusively in supporting roles. Arguably Rosi confines himself to Naremore's second two categories of 'amateur' acting . He follows the 'local colour' approach consistently throughout his career from 1958's The Challenge up to the most intense use of this strategy in 1979's Christ stopped at Eboli. In his most famous work Salvatore Giuliano he adopts an explicitly Brechtian strategy in making his 'protagonist' played by non-actor Pietro Cammarata at best self-consciously awkward, and at worst literally a patchwork of disembodied organic fragments. In this sense Rosi most closely exemplifies Andre Bazin's formulation of the law of the amalgam derived from classical neorealism in which professional and non-actors are mixed at the director's discretion. (1971, 23).  However he did not share Bazin's distaste for the star system, incorporating American stars such as Rod Steiger, James Belushi and John Turturro into his films, and enjoying a prolonged relationship with the Italian star Gian-Maria Volonte. Rosi does not develop relationships with his non-actors, in this sense he remains a classical neorealist director. In common with Rosselini and Visconti (with whom Rosi served a lengthy apprenticeship as his assistant) while the films retain some residual political subject matter the politics, as Marcus noted ( p 11 above) are dissolved into some amorphous ethical commitment. Even this ethical dimension however, as Rosi and Pasolini's practices indicate, remains secondary to the inalienable primacy of the auteur's command of his poetics.
Although Pasolini provided the opportunity for continued practice for some of his non-actors they remained very much receptacles that he alone could fill. Neither director diverts significantly from the traditional conservative view of film maker as single authorial voice and as a result there are clear ethical implications of their aesthetic choices to involve non-actors. If we accept the analogies with parental or Teacher/pupil relations then the minimum requirement would be some sense of in loco parentis - a concept with established precedent in legal as well as moral terms. As any legal analysis of the non-actor's situation would be based on the economic and/or contractual relations between the non-actor and the producer  , it is exclusively in ethical and political terms that the relation between director and non-actors may usefully be examined. Whether directors derive any responsibilities from their desire to seek out non-actors (usually from the geographic and socio-economic margins) and solicit their performance in film production must depend largely on the view taken as to the status of non-actors within the complex series of power-relations implicit within the film production process some of which have already been touched upon above.
If we accept the view that actors, and more markedly stars, are unanimously viewed as subjects within the film production process then this provides a useful point of departure in considering the implications of casting non-actors. Presumably they too should be accorded the minimum of respect in considering them as subjects, subjects with a specific point of view.
Ironically, in using bourgeois language to obscure the strategies by which his own master narrative is written with the bodies of dominated peoples, and indeed to justify such choices in democratic and philosophical terms, the director further reproduces the mechanisms of the dominant hegemony and its infinite capacity for absorption and conversion of otherness. Exclusion masquerading as inclusion. By prioritising his own subjective interpretation of working class life Pasolini reproduces his master's voice and reveals his own false consciousness.
Francesco Rosi studiously avoids Pasolini's irresistible urge towards solipsism. His objective historical-materialist vision foregoes any sense of intimacy, or even acknowledgement of the perspective of the masses, or the non-actors that represent them in his films. His non-actors function like a massive voiceless chorus in a Greek tragedy, silently registering the rhythms of slavery with tacit equanimity (This strategy is particularly pointed in Salvatore Giuliano and Christ stopped at Eboli where the massed non-actors are effectively part of, and relentlessly punished by the relentless landscape and unforgiving climate). From the point of view of 'history' this interpretation may well be accurate however my unease with Rosi's (false) objectivity is related to his uncritical acceptance of 'history'. He fails to question the blithe exclusion from history of the masses whom he includes in his films as geological details, stoic rocky contours obscuring the subterranean mineral depth which is withheld from the viewer. While at the same time he cannot contain his fascination with regard to the unscrupulous but driven heroes of his narratives, who are invariably played by stars - Rod Steiger's Nottola in Hands over the City 1963, Volonte's Enrico Mattei and Carlo Levi in Mattei Affair and Christ stopped at Eboli . By confining himself exclusively to a Political Historical cinema made from his own social position he fails to recognise the non-actors' historical and filmic points of view. His focus remains upon his central protagonists, who while falling prey to the tragedy of history are portrayed as epic flawed heroes. He reproduces what Bakhtin called the author's "excess of seeing" (1990, xxv)  , without considering the dialogic and dialectical truism that this excess is mutual.
"the human subject defined in this way is not condemned to subjectivism, the prison house not of language, but of the ego: a first implication in recognizing that we are all unique is the paradoxical result that we are fated to need the other if we are to consummate ourselves. Far from celebrating a solipsistic 'I' the uniqueness of the self is precisely the condition in which the necessity of the other is born….We are all unique but we are never alone." (1990, xxvi)
While self-consummation through others confirms an element of mutuality between people and creates the potential for genuine dialogue Bakhtin acknowledges the inherent inequality in terms of power between authors and their heroes. (1990, 14) The hero is confined to a passivity which has an explicit ethical dimension:
"when we contemplate our own exterior - as a living exterior participating in a living outward whole - through the prism of the evaluating soul of a possible other, then this soul of the other - as a soul lacking any self-sufficiency, a soul slave, as it were - introduces a certain spurious element that is absolutely alien to the ethical event of being. For inasmuch as it lacks any independent value of its own, what is engendered is not something productive and enriching but a hollow fictitious product that clouds the optical purity of being. What occurs here is something in the nature of an optical forgery: A soul without a place of its own is created, a participant without a name and without a role - something absolutely extra-historical"
'A participant without a role and without a name, an entity which is absolutely extra-historical' is a description which, unfortunately, could be applied with relative ease to many non-actors. Non-actors are the 'soul-slaves' of neorealist cinema. They are a convenient screen behind which the directors of dominant culture can invisibly pull the strings. Indeed non-actors are often perceived as the onscreen alter-ego of their director . The French critic Gilles Deleuze interpreted neorealism as a transitional moment which opened the door for the new 'cinema of the time image'. He also believed that an entirely new type of actor was required in order to effectively serve directorial vision. As emphasised throughout however, it is important to remember that time has specific implications for subaltern people in general and non-actors in particular. Deleuze is clear that the actor and character is at the service of the author, what was needed was:
"A new type of character for a new cinema. It is because what happens to them does not belong to them and only half concerns them," (1997b, 20) 
Deleuze is not necessarily viewing this lack of narrative ownership pejoratively, he feels such an approach more accurately reflects subjective reality and adds the recommendation that:
"A new type of actor was needed: not simply the non-professional actors that neo-realism had revived at the beginning, but what might be called professional non-actors, or better, 'actor-mediums', capable of seeing and showing rather than acting, and either remaining dumb or undertaking some never-ending conversation, rather than of replying or following a dialogue (such as, in France, Bulle Ogier or Jean-Pierre Leaud)" (1997b, 20 - 1) 
An opinion with which I would concur, with the important proviso that the opportunities for professional non-actors on an ongoing basis are extended to subaltern people. In the twenty years that have lapsed since Deleuze's suggestions were first published there has been little progress towards his model. In fact there has been absolutely no progress for the non-actors who live in the village of Matera in Southern Italy. The village and its inhabitants were used by Pasolini in 1963 for his Gospel according to St Matthew, then by Francesco Rosi for his 1979 film Christ stopped at Eboli. Then after a wait of twenty five years Christ came to Matera again, this time at the invitation of Mel Gibson. Work as non-actors was available again to the patient residents of Matera, but as ever it came at a price;
"In fact while the whippings, lacerated skin and nails through hands are all the masterful efforts of make up artists, the Italian extras, paid 60 to 90 euros a day, appear to have endured greater physical suffering than the better-known figures in the biblical story. Two in particular, who hung on crosses alongside Caviezel's double for hours, go so cold that gas burners and fans had to be set up to keep their goose pimples away" (Arie, 2004)
Non-actors today seem to experience uncannily similar conditions to those experienced by the non-actors of the original neorealist cinema (questioned by Deleuze above)and are largely confined to works of that genre, indeed they are fundamental to it as one of its defining characteristics. Evidence of a terrible syllogistic logic - as a non actor I may work in neorealist cinema only. Neorealist cinema requires unknown amateur non-actors. Therefore I can work once, or perhaps twice (when sufficient time has elapsed to restore invisibility), unpaid, in neorealist cinema. Q.E.D.
Benjamin, W., 1992, Illuminations, London: Fontana
Michael Kennedy has worked in community film making for over fifteen years with black country films. He is currently teaching Film and Video Production at Kingston University and has recently completed his doctoral thesis, Acting the Goat, at Brunel under the supervision of Dr Mike Wayne.