80. “Rome, Open City”, Roberto Rossellini (1945)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list


Rome, Open City aka Roma citta aperta

dir. Roberto Rossellini (1945) scr. Sergio Amidei and Federico Fellini, based on a story by  Amidei and Alberto Consiglio cin. Ubaldo Arata with Aido Fabrizi, Anna Magnani, Marcello Pagliero

In 100 words: The prototype for Italian neorealism, Rome famously shot its tense, emotional story about Italian resistance fighters during the last year of World War II, and it’s rather evident through its dilapidated settings and documentary-like camera capturing moments that feel off-hand. Actors, led by an impeccable Magnani, feel authentic and natural, like people you find on the streets. The way characters attempt to live their full lives even when the war is raging around them is moving. That Rossellini even manages to inject humor between scenes fraught with suspense is amazing. Rome opened the door for gritty, realistic, no-nonsense modern cinema.

Other Moves for Context: Rossellini was vital to Italian neorealism and made a lot of movies: I loved the vignettes of Paisan (1946), but absolutely disliked the marital film, Journey to Italy (1954), which is a shame because George Sanders and Ingrid Bergman are two of my favorites. I have yet to explore the rest of his filmography, but I think those are pretty vital films.

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