During the Nazi occupation of Rome in 1944, resistance leader Giorgio Manfredi (Marcello Pagliero) is on the run from the Nazis and seeks refuge at a friend’s place. There he meets his fiancé Pina (Anna Magnani), a war-worn widowed mother. As she’s also part of the resistance, she helps him contact Catholic priest Don Pietro Pellegrini (Aldo Fabrizi) for a mission to leave the open city before they’re all caught by the Nazis.
I believe that those who fight for justice and truth walk in the path of God and the paths of God are infinite.
Rome, Open City is my fifth Roberto Rossellini film, but it’s my first experience with a film of his not starring Ingrid Bergman. Unlike the films he made with Bergman, the film has a much more striking sense of authenticity, so much so that it almost makes you forget that the people onscreen are acting. As is often the case with Italian neo-realism films, much of the cast is filled with non-professional actors, making it so that the film’s events are more in the forefront than a star’s persona. There is one acclaimed Italian actress in the film though, but Anna Magnani’s appearance here doesn’t detract from the film’s narrative, and she instead blends in perfectly with her surroundings. This is actually the first film I’ve seen with Magnani, and I’ve been really wanting to see more of her films because I’ve only heard great things about her work (plus I’m partial to anyone who happens to share a birthday with me). And I’m happy to say that I wasn’t at all disappointed with her performance here; she’s a captivating presence throughout the film, and she leaves a strong mark on it.
After watching Rome, Open City, I understand its significance in Italian cinema more than I did before. Not only was it directed by one of the country’s most prolific filmmakers, but it was also co-written by Federico Fellini himself, another major figure in Italian cinema. It amazes me that Rossellini made this in Rome towards the end of World War II, especially one as compelling as this. While the subject matter calls for a number of shocking and heartbreaking moments throughout the film, it still manages to infuse a few lighter and funnier moments, showing the strength of the human condition even in times of war.
Rome, Open City (1945)
Directed by: Roberto Rossellini
Starring: Aldo Fabrizi, Anna Magnani, Marcello Pagliero
Oscar Nominations: Best Writing, Screenplay
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