World War Film Festival : Rome, Open City: Screening Review- A cascading masterpiece

Rome, Open City released in 1945 and is directed by Robert Rossellinifamous for his raw portrayal of events. Inspired by the real life story of a Catholic priest Don Pieto Morosini, who defied the Germans to help the Resistance in Italy. The film won the prestigious Cannes Grand Prize and was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 19th Academy Awards in 1947. The film is set in the early 1940s, where the Germans have already taken over Rome and want to round up rebellion leaders. With this intention, German SS troops are on the lookout for engineer Giorgio Manfredi (Marcello Pagiliero) who seeks the help of Francesco (Francesco Grandjacquet). Francesco and his wife, Pina will be getting married the next day, with Manfredi seeking help from Don Pietro (Aldo Fabrizi), the local priest. Pina’s sister, Marina is working as a cabaret dancer for the Germans and the Fascists. The German commander (Harry Feist) gets suspicious of the fact that Giorgio will be in Francesco’s house, thus using Marina as an informant who is vulnerable to money and power.



The film also has subtle references to German Resistance in the film, with no German soldier hailing Hitler directly. Rossellini was a part of the Italian neo-realism movement, with real locales and non-professional actors being used. The surprise characteristic of the film is melo-drama, which includes high pitch crying. Even Gina’s little son Marcello is seen as a reluctant rebellion, and bawls his heart out once his mum is shot by SS soldiers. The film has multi-layers to examine and is flawless in the cinematography department. Don Pietro often emphasizes on Christianity, and how God will do good. The German commander, while torturing Manfredi, tells Pietro : “He is a subversive and an atheist — your enemy.” Hartmann, a drunk German officer questions the way of the Nazis and his fellow soldiers, and says , “We Germans simply refuse to realize that people want to be free,”. The lighting in the film enhances the melodrama to a great extent, often screaming to viewers about a person’s importance in a scene.



Why You Should Watch This Film ?

The film is relevant even today, especially for the youth who hold the keys to tomorrow. The film inspired Jean Luc Godard who said, "All roads lead to Rome Open City," . Many French New Wave directors were also inspired from this cultural masterpiece.

Shlomoh Samuel

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