Rome, Open City (Special Edition) DVD
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Directed by Roberto Rossellini
Produced in 1945
Main Language - Italian with English subtitles
Anna Magnani, Aldo Fabrizi
Set in 1944, shot in early 1945 and released in Italy in the autumn, and internationally released in 1946, Roberto Rossellini’s Rome Open City (Roma città aperta) was the film that put Italian neo-realism on the world cinema map. Based on real events and shot (at least in part) in authentic locations, it is a powerful mixture of actuality and drama, with politics and religion thrown in for good measure. Centre-stage is Pina (Anna Magnani), who has a small son and in now pregnant by Francesco, a member of the Communist-led resistance. Also supporting the anti-Nazi resistance is Don Pietro (Aldo Fabrizi), who finds himself more and more drawn into activities which compromise his role as the guardian of souls. Although tragedy overtakes the main characters, the film ends with a message of hope as the children walk away from Don Pietro’s execution with the dome of St Peters framed in the background. Italy will soon be free, the children will grow up, and the Church will remain.
The huge popularity of Rome Open City at the time was due to the way it caught the mood of the moment. Resistance to oppression would be victorious and the good-hearted – Communists, Catholics or whoever – all stood together and would continue to do so. It also felt real, not just to Italians but to anyone who had experienced the war. Within a couple of years of its release, however, the Cold War had made its happy picture of a unity of Church and Communist Party suspect and subsequent criticism began to question its realism, felt to be tainted by melodrama. The critics have a point, but nothing can take away the film’s enormous power, nor its basic truth to the experiences it relates.
Often seen as the true beginning of neo-realism with its documentary-style imagery and the authenticity of its performances, Rossellini's classic film tells the story of resistance under German occupation. Based in part on the real-life account of a priest's heroic involvement in the struggle, the film was shot under difficult circumstances on the war-torn streets of Rome.
Publisher: Arrow Films
Length: 103 mins
Format: DVD B&W
Released: 15th March 2010
Cat No: FCD423
- Audio commentary by film scholar Peter Bondanella ‘The Children of Rome’ Open City Documentary, Roberto Rossellini Documentary ‘Once Upon a Time…Rome Open City’, Also includes the booklet ‘Open City: Reappropriating the Old, Making the New’ by Sidney Gottlieb’.
by Anon on 5th April 2006
Fifty nine years after it was made, this powerful and moving film has lost little of its intense immediacy. Roberto Rossellini clearly wished to tell a story set durin... Read on
Fifty nine years after it was made, this powerful and moving film has lost little of its intense immediacy. Roberto Rossellini clearly wished to tell a story set during the German occupation of Rome as if it were happening in the present, with every shot and every character believable beyond doubt.
The effect throughout is that of a documentary.The three interlocking stories tell of Giorgio Manfredi (Marcello Pagliero) a member of the Resistance and the |Italian Communist Party; Pina,(Anna Magnani) the young mother who hides him from the Germans, and Don Pietro Pellegrini (Aldo Fabrizi) a priest and Resistance worker who is based a real priest (Don Morosi) shot by the Germans.
Don Pietro’s credo is that anyone can die like a hero; the challenge is to live like one, and his values are the opposite of Marina (Maria Michi) who views collaboration with the enemy as acceptable because she sees life as worthless and revolting.
The key word to describe this marvelous film is authentic; each shot, each sequence carries total conviction.
The script is based on characters known to Rossellini and his script-writer Sergio Amidei and on their experiences in wartime Rome. Most of the film was shot where the events shown actually occurred, using a cast of mainly non-professional actors. Truth to experience is everything ,and one overlooks the uneven quality of sound and image because we now know that much of the film stock was bought from street photographers with the sound dubbed in afterwards to save money.
Roma,Citta Aperta ranks with de Sica’s Bicycle Thieves as a masterpiece of ‘neo-realist’ cinema.
by Anon on 2nd March 2005
Rome, Open City, a powerful Italian film directed by Roberto Rosselini in 1946, is a historically-based story of the Italian Resistance movement and its struggle again... Read on
Rome, Open City, a powerful Italian film directed by Roberto Rosselini in 1946, is a historically-based story of the Italian Resistance movement and its struggle against Nazi occupation. The film is a searing indictment of the Nazis and a powerful portrayal of the dignity and courage of the Italian Resistance fighters. With the city's studios destroyed, Rosselini was forced to shoot his film in the streets on stock that was purchased bit by bit, then taped together. It was shot almost immediately after the city was liberated from the Germans while the Germans still occupied the streets.
The result is a film of historic importance, the first of the great Italian Neo-realist films (followed by Paisan, The Bicycle Thief, Shoeshine, I Vitteloni, and Umberto D). These films were characterized by the use of non-professional actors, natural lighting, location shooting, the desire to get closer to everyday reality, and the struggle for dignity of the masses of people. Open City, despite its bleak World War II setting, remains hopeful. This hope for the future is symbolized by the children and is also expressed by Francesco as he talks to Pina (Anna Magnani) in the flats, "We must believe it, we must want it,, We musn't be afraid because we are on the just path. We're fighting for something that must come. It may be long..it may be difficult, but there'll be a better world."
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