2 minutes reading time (447 words)

Rome Open City Discussion

 

Ciao Asheville Presents

"Rome Open City"

Sunday, March 29th, 1pm @MetroWines

 

Notes from Robert Formento

Ciao Asheville Film Coordinator

This next movie, Rome Open City, was directed by Roberto Rossellini and is considered a film classic. Filming started in January 1945, only a few months after the Allies forced the Nazis to evacuate Rome. There was destruction in the city from Allied bombs, Cinecittà was turned into a homeless camp for thousands of Italian refugees and therefore not available to film makers. Money for production was hard to come by. Even film stock was difficult to find. As a result, filmmakers were forced to become creative. But, Italian filmmakers were ready to leave behind the happy, Hollywood type movies that Mussolini favored during his regime. “Necessity is the mother of invention” and thus began the Italian Neorealism era. Directors would show the reality of Italy without Cinecittà, with very little money and mostly with unprofessional actors. As a result, neorealism films would have almost a documentary feel to them.  In fact,  Rome Open City shows wartime Italy though the eyes of those who actually lived through it, starting with Rossellini (Director), the screen writers, and all of the actors. (including German POWs as the occupiers)

 

Rome, Open City is considered the first of this new style of film making. The story takes place in Rome during the 9 month occupation by the Nazis. (The occupation took place after Mussolini was deposed and the new government sided with the Allies.) Hitler was furious with Italy and vowed to make life miserable for Italy, especially the resistance leaders. They would go to any length to smash those in the resistance or anyone providing them assistance. And this is a story based on true events of the resistance. 

Although Italian neorealism films used mostly non professional actors, this film has two professional actors who provide standout performances; Aldo Fabrice who plays the priest Don Pietro and Anna Magnani, who plays the fiancee of one of the resistance leaders both lived through the occupation and this is the film where Anna Magnani became a star. She would go on to work with Visconti, Jean Renoir, Pasolini, Fellini, Tennessee Williams, etc. 

 

This is Rossellini’s tribute to Italy’s resistance fighters and it is a masterpiece. Given that the film was shot a few short months after the occupation, while the rest of Italy was still occupied, it is highly realistic. There are some scenes with violence, but those scenes are hardly gratuitous. 

Film time - 105 minutes

 

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