“ Genre: Drama / Theatrical Release: 1945 / Suitable for 12 years and over / Director: Roberto Rossellini / Actors: Aldo Fabrizi, Anna Magnani, Marcello Pagliero ... / DVD released 2005-04-11 at Arrow Films / Features of the DVD: PAL „
This review was originally written by myself, here:
During the latter days of Benito Mussolini's rule, a group of critics-turned-film makers wanted to show the realities of Italian life during this era. With so many commercially successful films being of a light hearted nature to keep the morale of the public during difficult years of war, it came as a surprise to audiences to see films which would be described as part of the 'Italian Neorealism' movement. These films would often show the poverty which was apparent in Italy at the time - questioning the leadership which the country ws under. As the censorship imposed under fascist rule was strict, the political messages in these films had to be kept to mere subtleties.
As part of his postwar trilogy, Roberto Rosselini created a film in collaboration with Cesare Zavattini - 'Rome, Open City.' It follows the Nazi invasion of Rome and a soon to be married couple.
Though the picture quality is poor and grainy, Rosselini uses it to his adavantage to give the film an added sense of realism with an almot documentary look. The largely non-professional cast fill their roles with experience in situations similar to the events occuring in the film.
Some of the scenes truly show that a masterful film maker is at work here - the death of a main character, gunned down by a Nazi soldier/official; the rebellion of a group of children; a bishop leaving children to play football. Rosselini also handles his political message(s) with aplomb. Early in the film, we see a bakery shop being raided due to the lack of food, with the heroine being involved - Rosselini's way of saying that under some circumstances, rebelling against the authorities is necessary.
With Rome, Open City, Rosselini arguably began the movement - though it was not necessarily the first Italian neorealist film.