Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy [Criterion Collection] [3 Discs] [DVD]
- SKU: 18272999
- Release Date: 01/26/2010
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Ratings & Reviews
Roberto Rossellini's Roma, Città Aperta (known in English as Open City) was one of the landmark films of the 1940s on several levels. Aesthetically, it was one of the first major works of Italian neorealist filmmaking and perhaps the single most influential example of the style. Historically, it was among the first postwar European films to gain a significant audience in the United States, opening the door for a greater appreciation of international filmmaking in America. And politically, it was a work of tremendous bravery. The screenplay was written by Roberto Rossellini in association with Federico Fellini and Sergio Amidei while Rome was still occupied by German forces in 1943-44. Rossellini began filming in secret, using scavenged film stock without sound equipment, shortly before the city was liberated in June of 1944. Several key members of his creative team had been active in the Italian resistance movement. With its rough, documentary-style look, multi-layered narrative, and a cast that mixed amateurs with actors who didn't look like film stars, Roma, Città Aperta captured the harsh and unforgiving textures of real life as few movies of its time had dared. It set the pace for Italian Neorealism as an influential postwar film style that combined outdoor light and location shooting with non-actors, a focus on simple stories of everyday life, and a concern for the poor and for social problems. Roma, Città Aperta shows the lives of a group of people living in Rome during the Nazi occupation, after the Germans had declared it an "open city." Anna Magnani plays a woman in love with a member of a resistance group; in helping him, she risks not only her own life, but also that of her unborn child. Aldo Fabrizi plays a priest who aids the anti-Nazi cause and pays dearly for his activism. Marcello Pagliero is an outspoken communist who runs afoul of the Nazis. And Harry Feist plays a German officer who has taken an Italian lover, but whose affection for Romans does not run especially deep. While Roma, Città Aperta shows flashes of the melodramatic sentimentality that would mark much of Rossellini's later work, it still rings true as a chronicle of a city under siege and as the genesis of a powerful new film style whose influences include such later filmmakers, among many others, as John Cassavetes, Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, and Spike Lee. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Roberto Rossellini's Paisan (originally Paisa) is one of the best-known and most important of the postwar Italian neorealist films; certainly it has one of the finest pedigrees, representing the combined talents of two of Italy's most prestigious filmmakers. The second of Rossellini's "war trilogy" (bracketed by Open City and Germany Year Zero), Paisan is divided into six episodes, each elucidating upon the tenuous relationship between the recently liberated Italians and their American liberators. In the first episode, Joe From Jersey (Robert Van Loon), assigned to guard a taciturn Sicilian woman (Carmela Sazio), tries to communicate with his monolingual prisoner. Next, a black MP (Dotts Johnson) is robbed of his shoes by an impoverished Neopolitan street urchin (Alfonsino Pasca). This is followed by an episode set in Rome, where drunken GI Fred (Gar Moore) is reunited with a streetwalker (Maria Michi) whom he's met before but does not recognize. In Florence, American nurse Harriet (Harriet Medin) and an Italian partisan (Gigi Gori) dodge bullets as they make their way through enemy-held territory in search of Harriet's lover. Next comes a comic interlude involving a theological argument between a Catholic, a Protestant, a Jew and a group of Fransiscan monks. The film concludes with a bloody confrontation in the Po Valley between the OSS and a band of intractable Germans who refuse to surrender. Everyone who's ever seen Paisan has his or her favorite episode: by consensus of opinion, the most popular vignettes are the Naples episode (largely adlibbed by actors Dotts Johnson and Alfonsino Pasca) and the thrilling Florentine vignette with Harriet Medin and Gigi Gori. Giulietta Masina, the wife of Federico Fellini, shows up in a bit role; Fellini himself collaborated on the screenplay with Rossellini and Annalena Limentani. Originally released at 115 minutes, Paisan was expertly edited to 90 minutes for American consumption by Stuart Legg and Raymond Spottiswoode. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Germany, Year Zero
In the third and final film of Rossellini's WWII trilogy, the director shifts his focus from his native Italy to the bombed-out ruins of Berlin, where 12-year-old Edmund Koehler struggles for survival. Among the nine people he lives with are: a father, who is suffering from malnutrition and a fatal illness; a brother, who is a former Nazi soldier hiding to avoid arrest; and a sister, who has turned to prostitution. Scouring the rubble-strewn city for food, money, and cigarettes, he comes upon a former teacher, Herr Enning (Erich Guhne), who evinces a barely restrained sexual attraction to the boy while providing him with records of Hitler's speeches that can be bartered on the black market. He also drums into the boy a classic piece of Nazi propaganda about the importance of having the courage to let the weak be destroyed. Under his influence, the confused young protagonist heads down a tragic path. ~ Michael Costello, Rovi
Cast & Crew
- Nando Bruno - Agostino
- Aldo Fabrizi - Don Pietro Pellegrini
- Harry Feist - Capt. Bergmann
- Anna Magnani - Pina
- Giovanna Galletti - Ingrid
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