Rome, Open City (12a)

May 06, 2015
Cranbrook Film Society

A classic, filmed in Rome in 1946, it is a story of human relationships, loyalty and pragmatism, with Father Don Pietro as its moral core.

“Gruesome and shocking but plenty of lyricism and humour”
Geoffrey MacNab – Independent.

Roberto Rossellini | Italy | 1945 | 102 minutes | 12A

Film notes:

By 1944 there was no Italian Film Industry. Its Rome Studio was a refugee camp. There were no supplies and no money. Sergio Amidei and Frederico Fellini wrote the screenplay in a week in Fellini’s house – the only place with any warmth at all. ‘Rome, Open City‘ was filmed on the streets with a few professional actors, and much improvisation. It was shot mainly on reels discarded by the U.S. military. It spearheaded the neo-realistic movement, which aimed to achieve visual authenticity and naturalism, but was still overtly theatrical. Rosselini took people from the streets and made them act – too realistically on one occasion: bystanders attacked prisoners of war as they played a scene. Rosselini liked working with amateurs, saying, “in order to really create the character that one has in mind, it is necessary for the director to engage in a battle with his actor which usually ends with submitting to the actor’s wish.” His choice of Anna Magnani as Pina was inspired. She is fiery and indomitable and was his lover until he left her for Ingrid Bergman, denying her the leading role in ‘Stromboli‘ he had promised her. Aldo Fabrizi is wonderful as the Priest. If you have a wavering faith, he will restore it. The effete Gestapo Chief (Harry Feist) seems ill cast. However, as was the case with the hostage negotiator in ‘A Hijacking‘ that we showed last season, there may be a reason for this. Rosselini was too shrewd to not have been making a point.

Ubaldo Arata’s visceral cinematography blends the grit of a documentary with the heart and soul of a drama” said Mark Kermode in the Observer. Do not think, however, that this is a film of gore and violence. It is understated and all the more powerful for that. It is a story of redemption, hope, character and resilience and is a terrific film to end our 2014/2015 Season.

This film was digitally remastered this year, which allows us better to understand its innate humour and gives us decent subtitles.



            Weighted vote 75.%